Bengals Designate DT D.J. Reader, KR Brandon Wilson For Return

Coming out of their bye week, the Bengals opened the practice windows for two key contributors. Both D.J. Reader and Brandon Wilson returned to practice Monday, clearing a path to Week 11 returns.

A third-year Bengals defensive tackle starter, Reader has been down since late September due to an MCL injury. Having the veteran starter back would obviously bolster Cincinnati’s defense. Wilson could boost the defending AFC champions’ special teams. He has been on the team’s reserve/PUP list all season but is in the final stages of recovering from the ACL tear that ended his 2021 campaign. This might not be a lengthy ramp-up period, with Zac Taylor indicating (via The Athletic’s Paul Dehner Jr., on Twitter) optimism a Week 11 return could happen.

Given a four-year, $53MM deal to come over from Houston in 2020, Reader has started 23 Bengals games. The Bengals pivoted to a more aggressive free agency blueprint that year, which coincided with Joe Burrow‘s rookie contract hitting the team’s books, and Reader has been one of the centerpieces of this strategy adjustment. The plus run defender has not disappointed.

Although Reader suffered a quadriceps injury that knocked him out for 11 games in 2020, he returned to be a pivotal performer on the Bengals’ Super Bowl LVI-bound defense. When he suffered the knee malady this year, Pro Football Focus had him tops among interior D-linemen in run defense. Reader’s return alongside B.J. Hill would strengthen a Bengals defense that has been gashed by Alvin Kamara and Nick Chubb during Reader’s absence.

Wilson missed the team’s Super Bowl climb, having gone down nine games into the 2021 season. The veteran return man will have missed over a year of action. Wilson, who notched kick-return touchdowns in 2019 and 2020, has been the Bengals’ primary kick returner over the past three seasons.

Reader and Wilson, both 28, have three weeks to be activated. No activation in that timeframe would lead to a season-ending IR stay. Cincinnati has five injury activations remaining. Reader and Wilson, both 28, represent prime candidates to count against the team’s eight-activation limit. Ja’Marr Chase is also likely to rejoin the team later this season, but the Bengals did not place their star wide receiver on IR, preferring to go week-to-week here.

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