Bengals safety Shawn Williams suffered a dislocated elbow in Saturday’s preseason game against the Chiefs and is expected to miss four-to-six weeks, according to Geoff Hobson of Bengals.com. However, that timetable could be extended, as an October return is a “best-case scenario” for Williams, tweets Jim Owczarski of the Cincinnati Enquirer. Williams doesn’t plan to undergo surgery, per Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (Twitter link).
Cincinnati was already down one safety before Williams injured his elbow, as George Iloka is only know returning from a knee sprain suffered in early August. While Iloka should be ready for the regular season, the Bengals are witnessing the thinning of their defensive back depth. Derron Smith, a 2015 sixth-round pick, will likely step in for Williams in the starting lineup, while Clayton Fejedelem and Josh Shaw are also expected to see increased snaps.
Williams, 26, was a full-time starter for the first time in 2016 after he took over for the departed Reggie Nelson. In 15 games, Williams played on 83% of Cincinnati’s defensive snaps, racking up 81 tackles and three interceptions while grading as the league’s No. 39 safety among 90 qualifiers, per Pro Football Focus. Having agreed to a contract extension last May, Williams is signed through the 2020 campaign.
The Bengals open the 2017 season with two divisional games among their first five contests before heading to a bye in Week 6. If Williams is sidelined for the full six-week timeline, he’ll miss games against the Ravens, Texans, Packers, and Browns.
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