Bengals' Ndukwe out for season

Published Dec. 14, 2010 7:44 a.m. ET

By Marc Hardin
FOX Sports Ohio | Bengals Insider
Tuesday, December 14th, 2010

Add Chinedum Ndukwe to the ever-expanding list of Bengals who are out for the season. The Bengals on Monday placed the fourth-year safety on injured reserve, forcing a decimated secondary to absorb yet another blow.

Ndukwe, the 15th Cincinnati player and the seventh defensive back to be placed on the season-ending injured list, injured his left knee in the second quarter of Sunday's 23-7 loss in Pittsburgh while trying to tackle Steelers running back Rashard Mendenhall.

Only the Indianapolis Colts, with 16, have more players on IR than the Bengals.

Ndukwe, who is leading the Cincinnati secondary with 60 tackles, stepped into the starting lineup this season for a third straight year. He has replaced injured strong safety Roy Williams each of the past two seasons, though Williams has since returned from his latest injury. In the final two games of his rookie 2007 season, Ndukwe subbed as a starter for injured strong safety Dexter Jackson.

Ndukwe has been productive when he has been on the field. He led the secondary in tackles with 89 last season, as he played in all 16 games with 12 starts. The former Notre Dame standout played in 12 games this season with six starts and solidified his reputation for making plays, recording an interception, three passes defensed, a fumble recovery and a sack.

Though his performance as a backup and occasional starter for the Bengals has been solid, Ndukwe has an uncertain future with the team. He is in the final year of his contract after having been an unqualified bargain as a seventh-round draft pick in '07.

However, Ndukwe has been injury prone. Last year was the only season he has been able to get through the entire 16-game schedule without missing a game. He played in 14 games as a rookie and 11 in his second season of 2008.

Other Bengals defensive backs placed on the IR this season include safeties Chris Crocker and Gibril Wilson and cornerbacks Brandon Ghee, Adam Jones, Rico Murray and Morgan Trent.

SECONDARY DECIMATED: The Bengals have seven healthy secondary members, including two starters, Williams and cornerback Leon Hall. Cornerback Johnathan Joseph has been limited during the second half of the schedule with recurring problems originating from a high-ankle sprain. He was inactive Sunday and is a candidate to finish the season on IR, as well.

Of the other five healthy DBs, only Jeromy Miles was a healthy participant at Bengals training camp. He spent most of the season on the practice squad. Safety Tom Nelson was unable to play in August with an injury. Safety Reggie Nelson was in Jacksonville.

The Bengals have had a total of 16 defensive backs on the 53-player roster this season. They could be reacquiring another if safety Marvin White is signed off waivers this week. He was added then cut earlier this season.

Head coach Marvin Lewis said having so much new blood has forced changes in the Bengals' defensive scheme.

"(There are) a lot of guys who weren