After ending a decades-long playoff drought, the Bengals learned they will be without a key piece to their defense as they prepare for their Divisional Round matchup. Defensive tackle Larry Ogunjobi has been placed on Injured Reserve with a right foot injury, ending his season (Twitter link via ESPN’s Adam Schefter).
The news is a big blow to the Bengals, as Ogunjobi was having a very productive first season in Cincinnati. In 16 games, he recorded 49 total tackles and seven sacks. After four seasons with the Browns, the 27-year-old signed a one year, $6.2MM deal in March as part of a major defensive overhaul in the Queen City. The investment in Ogunjobi – along with the likes of Trey Hendrickson and Chidobe Awuzie – certainly paid off, as the Bengals won the AFC North for the first time since 2015.
The Bengals will be hard-pressed to replace Ogunjobi’s 68% snap share on defense. Look for D.J. Reader and B.J. Hill to take on an even bigger role; Josh Tupou could be an option to take on more snaps as well. Regardless of who plays on the interior of the d-line for the Bengals, they will be facing a stiff challenge on Saturday. Their opponent, the top-seeded Titans, are expected to have superstar running back Derrick Henry back for the game. The Bengals’ ability to contain Henry will be a huge factor in deciding if they can move on to their first AFC title game since 1988 – something that became much harder, given today’s news.