Bengals place LB Burfict on season-ending IR with knee injury
The season is officially over for Bengals linebacker Vontaze Burfict. The team placed the third-year player on injured reserve after he failed to fully recover from knee surgery on Oct. 29. At the time, it was thought the procedure would force Burfict to miss two or three games but it turned out that the injury was more significant.
Rookie quarterback A.J. McCarron was activated to the 53-man roster off of the reserve/non-football injury list in a corresponding move but McCarron is expected to be the No. 3 quarterback behind starter Andy Dalton and backup Jason Campbell.
While the Bengals have played the majority of the season without Burfict and are in first place in the AFC North with an 8-4-1 record, they were hopeful he would be able to return for the final stretch run of games that include road trips to Cleveland and Pittsburgh and a home game against Denver.
The Bengals signed Burfict to a three-year contract extension worth $18.4 million through the 2017 season, a contract that included $6.9 million in guaranteed money for this year. Burfict was an undrafted college free agent when he signed with the Bengals out of Arizona State in 2012 and was set to become a restricted free agent after this season.
Burfict led the NFL in tackles in 2013, prompting the contract extension, but he played in just five games this season, leaving early on three occasions. He suffered concussions against Baltimore and Atlanta in the first two games of the season, forcing him to depart early and eventually miss the next two games against Tennessee and New England with a bye week sandwiched in between. He played in three straight games, although he did leave the game at Indianapolis on Oct. 19 early with a neck strain suffered when he attempted a high tackle on Colts quarterback Andrew Luck.
He suffered the knee injury against Jacksonville on Oct. 26. He did finish out the game after leaving for a brief spell but had surgery three days later.
Burfict finishes the season with 29 tackles, two pass breakups and one forced fumble.
Vinny Rey has been playing in place of Burfict for the last six games and has made 10 starts overall at outside and middle linebacker. Rey leads the team with 97 tackles.