Bengals defensive end Michael Johnson will miss a “few” weeks after suffering a knee injury in Thursday night’s contest against the Ravens, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (Twitter link). Geoff Hobson of Bengals.com reports Johnson suffered a sprained MCL.
Johnson is a starter for Cincinnati, although he doesn’t typically play a full complement of snaps given that the Bengals often deploy sub-package rushers. With Johnson sidelined, those backups — including Carl Lawson, Jordan Willis, and rookie Sam Hubbard — will now be called on to see more action. Johnson also occasionally moves inside to defensive tackle on pass downs, so the Bengals will need to find a replacement for that role (both Willis and Hubbard are capable of shifting inside).
Johnson was nominally released by the Bengals at final cutdowns, although the transaction was simply a procedural move. Cincinnati wanted to keep rookie cornerback Davontae Harris on its initial roster so it would be able to place him on injured reserve/designated to return. So Johnson was released with the knowledge that he’d be re-signed the following day, and his new contract features the exact same salary he was originally set to collect.
Johnson, a second-round pick of the Bengals in 2009, has been with Cincinnati for every season of his NFL career save for 2014, which he spent with Tampa Bay. The 31-year-old has appeared in 142 total games (106 starts), posting 44 sacks during that time.
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