It feels like a lifetime ago but it’s funny to think what the focus of attention was for the Cincinnati Bengals in Week 1.
It was an AFC North classic showdown against the rival Pittsburgh Steelers. Yet it wasn’t really about La’el Collins squaring off against T.J. Watt or about Ja’Marr Chase matching up against Chidobe Awuzie. Nah.
All of that paled in comparison to the biggest concern, Joe Burrow’s appendectomy.
The surgery sidelined Burrow for over two weeks toward the end of training camp and raised questions about his availability as well as his level of play upon his return.
Evidently, it turned out the Bengals’ quarterback was really ready to go even if he looked off in that game with five turnovers.
But to be that concerned about a player’s health status because of his appendix was perhaps one of the most random storylines heading into gameday.
Well, Bengals fans better buckle up for another “Steelers week” of hearing about that kind of injury. This time though, it should play in favor of Cincinnati.
On Saturday night, ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported Steelers superstar safety Minkah Fitzpatrick underwent an appendectomy and will be out for several weeks. That essentially rules Fitzpatrick out for the game against the Bengals in Week 11.
It’s unfortunate news considering you always want to see both teams at full strength when playing these games. But from a match-up standpoint, this bodes well for the Bengals. Fitzpatrick is a legit playmaker who can change the course of games out of nowhere.
With the Steelers activating safety Damontae Kazee, Pittsburgh was about to unleash a three-safety set that was expected to really help them out on defense. Fitzpatrick was the key to that working, however.
While the Bengals will be spared from Fitzpatrick’s ball-hawking skills, they will have to survive T.J. Watt’s havoc creation in the trenches. The star edge rusher was activated in Week 10 and will get his feet wet before facing La’el Collins.
We all know how that match-up went last time around. Get ready for that being one of the most important storylines of the week.
Featured image via Sam Greene-USA TODAY Sports