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Cincinnati Bengals' Win Over Pittsburgh Steelers Takes Injury Toll

Veteran Defensive End Geathers Out for Year

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COMMENTARY | The Cincinnati Bengals will get a good, long look at 2013 second-round draft pick Margus Hunt a little earlier than expected. The 6-foot-8, 280-pound native of Estonia is the next man up after veteran defensive end Robert Geathers was placed on season-ending injured reserve Wednesday with an elbow injury sustained in the Bengals' Monday Night Football 20-10 win over the Pittsburgh Steelers.

In his 10th season, Geathers was a vital rotational end, who brought more experience and presence among his teammates than he did quarterback pressure or run defense at this stage in his career, but the loss will have an impact. His replacement is a freakish athlete, whose story of arrival in the United States for Olympics track-and- field training is well-chronicled. With all the physical attributes to become a force on the defensive line, it's just a question of whether or not Hunt can adjust well enough to mesh with the Bengals' defense in game action. The Bengals will rely heavily on the three primary defensive ends: Michael Johnson, Carlos Dunlap and Wallace Gilberry, but the future looks like it just became now for Hunt to contribute.

Cornerback Injuries

The Bengals are facing the wrong opponent this Sunday if their secondary is going to be depleted. Three of the five Bengals' CBs did not practice Wednesday: Brandon Ghee, Dre Kirkpatrick and Adam Jones. Of the three, Jones would be the loss hardest to overcome against a juggernaut passing attack like that led by Aaron Rodgers of the Green Bay Packers. The level of contribution expected from Kirkpatrick would have increased dramatically in the absence of Jones, but now that Kirkpatrick could be inactive Sunday, the next man up behind him was Ghee, who may not play either.

As a result, the Bengals had to sign Philadelphia Eagles' cast-off CB Curtis Marsh and may have to promote Chris Lewis-Harris from the practice squad. The Bengals also re-signed safety Jeromy Miles, who was waived by the team last week. If the situation leaves the Bengals significantly short-handed at the corners, the Bengals could flood the field with safeties, including Reggie Nelson in more man coverage and Taylor Mays as a weakside linebacker hybrid.

The passing attack of the Packers just got more difficult to defend for the Bengals, which will make the defensive line pressure that the Bengals can apply to Rodgers all that more important.

Robb Hoff has worked as a freelance researcher for ESPN's production and news departments for more than five years. He posts his NFL draft predictions each year at footballnostradamus.com

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