There are few possible injuries as impactful as Chidobe Awuzie’s is for the Cincinnati Bengals. While fans await confirmation on what the starting cornerback’s status will be moving forward, some experts fear it is a torn ACL for the standout defender.

That would put the Bengals in a dangerous position as evidenced on Monday night. Lou Anarumo’s defense was off to a hot start this season before plenty of injuries dismantled the front seven as defensive tackle DJ Reader and linebacker Logan Wilson missed time.

Now the injuries have crept up to the defensive backfield.

One of the big reasons why the Bengals’ defense has been so successful has been Awuzie’s ability to match up against some of the best wide receivers in the league.

Just a couple of weeks ago, Awuzie was listed as a Top 10 shutdown cornerback by NFL.com. The former 2017 second-round draft pick was putting together a career year eight weeks into the season.

On Monday’s game against the Cleveland Browns, Awuzie was having a good day against route-running virtuoso Amari Cooper. He was targeted twice and allowed no completions. Formerly friends in Dallas, the two squared off in what was turning out to be an entertaining battle.

But the moment Awuzie was taken off the field, however, Cooper’s game difficulty was set to “easy mode.” Especially with Eli Apple also being out.

Matched up twice against Tre Flowers at the line of scrimmage, the wide receiver showed his superiority.

That includes the third-quarter touchdown play below that could teach young aspiring NFL wide receivers more than a three-hour clinic.

Later in the game, done with Flowers, the Bengals decided to match up the rookie Dax Hill with Amari. It didn’t work out for them as he gave up a 53-yard catch.

I’ve been a fan of Hill since the Draft process but that match-up just isn’t going to work. Not with the rookie being forced to play outside instead of the hybrid role he’s expected to thrive in.

But then again, what other choice was there?

Cooper finished the night with five catches for 131 yards and one touchdown.

The Bengals are aspiring to win a conference again that includes the Kansas City Chiefs and the Buffalo Bills. If they’re unable to stop number one wide receivers moving forward, they can kiss those dreams goodbye.

They need to find a solution. And quickly. Whether that’s moving Mike Hilton outside, exploring a last-minute trade, or something else.

This has the potential to be a season-defining injury.

Featured image via David Dermer-USA TODAY Sports

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