September 21st, 2022 at 12:12pm CST by Sam Robinson
The Bengals will be without one of their tight ends for a while, perhaps the rest of the season. Drew Sample will be sidelined for “several months” due to knee surgery, Zac Taylor said Wednesday.
Sample suffered the knee injury during the Bengals’ Week 2 loss in Dallas. The fourth-year tight end started in each of Cincinnati’s first two games. This comes at a bad time for Sample, who is in a contract year. Initial tests revealed MCL and PCL damage, according to ESPN.com’s Jeremy Fowler, who adds this is likely a season-ending injury (Twitter link). Sample will undoubtedly be moved to IR soon.
A former second-round pick, Sample has started 25 games with the Bengals. The team has not viewed the University of Washington product as a pass-catching regular, preferring C.J. Uzomah and Hayden Hurst in those roles in recent years. Sample did catch 40 passes for 349 yards and a touchdown in 2020, however, when he saw action on 81% of Cincinnati’s offensive snaps. He played all 21 Bengals games last season, seeing a 42% snap share.
Cincinnati signed Hurst this offseason and claimed former third-round pick Devin Asiasi off waivers from the Patriots. Third-year UDFA Mitchell Wilcox rounds out the defending AFC champions’ tight end room, which lost Uzomah after the longtime Bengal signed with the Jets in March. The Bengals were connected to O.J. Howard, hosting him on a visit just before the season, but the ex-Buccaneers starter signed with the Texans.
The Seahawks‘ Will Dissly contract — a three-year, $24MM deal featuring nearly $16MM in total guarantees — surprised most, but the injury-prone tight end indeed generated interest outside of Seattle. The Broncos and Buccaneers were two of Dissly’s other suitors, according to Adam Jude of the Seattle Times, who detailed the former fourth-round pick’s path to that $8MM-per-year contract. Dissly, who experienced early-career injuries and put up light receiving statistics in his two healthy years (45 receptions, 482 yards since 2020), was both concerned about his free agency value and wondering if he would need to wait a bit into free agency for teams to take care of higher-priority players, Jude adds. But Dissly struck a deal on Day 1 of the legal tampering period, re-signing with a Seahawks team that had acquired Noah Fant days earlier.
A reunion with Russell Wilson in Denver was on the table, per Jude, who notes another offer Dissly received was “in the ballpark” of what Seattle proposed. At least six teams expressed interest as well, though it sounds like the Broncos were the Seahawks’ top competitor here. But the team, valuing Dissly as a blocker, made the Washington alum a priority. The Broncos drafted Greg Dulcichin Round 3 a month later.
Here is the latest from the tight end scene:
With C.J. Uzomah out of the picture, Drew Sample‘s Bengals role figures to expand a bit. But the defending AFC champions will be without Sample for a bit. Sample suffered a knee injury recently, and although Zac Taylor said the fourth-year pass catcher will likely be out multiple weeks, ESPN.com’s Ben Baby tweets. Sample may be dealing with an MCL sprain, per NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport (on Twitter). The Bengals have Sample, a former second-round pick in a contract year, and signed former first-rounder Hayden Hurst to replace Uzomah.
The Texans did not generate much from their tight end spot last season; Jordan Akins‘ 214 receiving yards led the position group. The team let Akins sign with the Giants in free agency and did not add a notable replacement. Lovie Smith‘s squad is planning to open the season with veteran Pharaoh Brown as the starter here, Aaron Wilson of ProFootballNetwork.com notes. Brown, who re-signed with the Texans this offseason on a one-year deal worth $3.5MM, caught 23 passes for just 171 yards last season. The Texans have 2021 fifth-round pick Brevin Jordan and used a fifth-rounder this year on Teagan Quitoriano. Both young players will defer to Brown, a sixth-year presence, to start the season.
In addition to Akins, the Giants have Ricky Seals-Jones and fourth-round pick Daniel Bellinger — already a starter candidate — at tight end. Rookie UDFAs Jeremiah Halland Andre Miller have each gotten fullback snaps with the first-team offense during training camp, per The Athletic’s Dan Duggan (subscription required). This marks a notable shift for Miller, a wide receiver at Division I-FCS Maine. Post-Evan Engram, this remains one of the NFL’s most uncertain tight end groups.
Bengals tight end DrewSample is done for the year. The team placed the rookie on injured reserve this morning, reports Tyler Dragon of the Cincinnati Enquirer (via Twitter). Cincy promoted safety TrayvonHenderson from the practice squad to take the open roster spot (per Dragon on Twitter).
The Bengals used a second-round pick on Sample in this past year’s draft. The Washington product found himself playing behind a (relatively) healthy TylerEifert and C.J. Uzomah on the depth chart, hauling in five catches for 30 yards in nine games (two starts). The six-foot-four tight end suffered an ankle injury in his team’s Week 10 loss to the Ravens.
Henderson, 24, sat out his entire rookie campaign with a torn ACL. The Bengals waived the defensive back following the 2019 preseason, and Henderson later caught on with their practice squad. Safety BrandonWilson has already been ruled out for tomorrow’s game against the Browns with a hand injury. Safety ShawnWilliams is also listed on the injury report with an ankle injury.
The Giants may be a long shot to make the postseason, but that doesn’t mean they’re going to shut down their star players. When asked if the team would rest running back SaquonBarkley, head coach Pat Shurmur responded with an emphatic “absolutely not” (via Ralph Vacchiano of SNY).
Shurmur had previously acknowledged that Barkley was a bit banged up, and that was evident after the running back compiled a single rushing yard on 13 carries during the Giants’ loss to the Jets on Sunday. ESPN’s Jordan Raanan reports that Barkley had an X-ray on his shoulder after the game. There was some thought that the 22-year-old was suffering from an ankle or leg injury, but Barkley acknowledged that his legs are still feeling good.
The Giants and Barkley will look to get back on track when they return from their bye week. The team will visit the Bears on November 24th.
Let’s check out some more injury notes from around the NFL…
We’ve got some updates on key 49ers skill players. ESPN’s Adam Schefter notes (on Twitter) that wideout EmmanuelSanders‘s s-rays for a rib injury were inconclusive. The veteran was set to undergo an MRI today to determine the extent of the “damage.” Meanwhile, NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero tweets that running back MattBreida will get a second opinion on his sprained ankle. While the injury isn’t thought to be serious, Breida may still be sidelined for several games.
Seahawks wideout Tyler Lockett was at the hospital last night getting treatment for a leg contusion, but Darin Gantt of ProFootballTalk.com passes along that the receiver is alright. Coach Pete Carroll told 710 ESPN that the bruise caused a “pretty severe situation” thanks to the subsequent swelling, and Lockett didn’t return with the team to Seattle. The 27-year-old is having another productive season, hauling in 62 receptions for 793 yards and four touchdowns.
Some good news out of Indy: Colts coach Frank Reich told reporters that wideout DevinFunchess should return to practice this week. “Technically, he could be cleared to play the game,” Reich said (via Jim Ayello of the Indy Star). “But he’s got a few more boxes to check. We have to make sure he’s good to go because this will really be his first week of practice. Then we still have to see how much he’ll be able to do Wednesday. We’re really encouraged. I think there’s another box he has to check before we can go full boar on the practice.” Funchess landed on the IR after breaking his collarbone during the season opener.
Bengals tight end DrewSample suffered a high ankle sprain this past weekend, reports NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport (via Twitter). The 2019 second-rounder will undergo additional tests to determine how much time he’ll miss, but Rapoport notes that he’s a candidate for the injured reserve. The rookie has hauled in five catches for 30 yards in nine games (two starts) this season.
The Bengals signed first-round offensive tackle Jonah Williams and second-round tight end Drew Sample, according to a team announcement. Williams was selected No. 11 overall while Sample was taken 41 picks later with the No. 52 choice.
Williams entered draft weekend as a strong candidate for the top 10. But, after the Giants shocked the world by taking Duke quarterback Daniel Jones at No. 6 overall, things changed radially for the Alabama product and other top prospects. The early shakeup led to the Jaguars taking Kentucky edge rusher Josh Allen at No. 7, which allowed the Lions to opt for Iowa tight end T.J. Hockenson at No. 8 instead of Williams. That worked out just fine for the Bengals, who were able to stand pat and land the best tackle in this year’s class.
Sample, meanwhile, used his 6’5″ frame to block effectively at Washington. He didn’t light up the stat sheet with just 25 catches for 252 yards in 2018, but he could develop into more of an offensive playmaker with time.