- Coley Harvey, ESPN Staff Writer
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CINCINNATI -- Some teams have already learned the high cost that can be associated with playing key contributors and rising stars in preseason games.
The Cincinnati Bengals don't want to be next on that list.
It appears precaution prompted the team Friday night to sit a trio of key backups who all experienced varying levels of discomfort in the 23-10 victory over the New York Giants.
Cornerback Darqueze Dennard left the game in the second quarter with a groin injury. He had initially tweaked the muscle a couple days earlier during one of the Bengals' joint practices with the Giants, but the pain was mild enough that he thought he could play. After 18 plays, he came off the field.
It doesn't sound as if Dennard is in jeopardy of missing the regular-season opener, but he isn't necessarily going to be rushed onto the field, either. Asked Saturday how quickly he believed he could return, Dennard reiterated the fact that he played Friday after even originally suffering the injury was likely a promising sign. Like others who are banged up, he deferred his injury timetable to coaches and trainers. When they felt he was ready, he would be back, he said.
Burkhead was hurt when he ran into a fullback Mark Weisman's back on a 2-yard run. He was attempting to break a tackle when Weisman was engaged with a blocker in front of him. Burkhead's momentum carried him into his teammate's pads, causing his neck muscles to strain slightly.
"I feel good," Burkhead said Saturday. "But it's kind of a day-to-day thing right now."
He was even feeling better within an hour of the game ending. Burkhead said he was close to the end of his anticipated number of snaps and didn't return to the game for precautionary reasons.
Seven plays after Burkhead was injured, his replacement, Cedric Peerman, hurt his left knee when he tried to dive for the pylon from about five yards out. Peerman had just caught a screen pass and broke loose up the left sideline when he went airborne. Hit by a couple of defenders while in flight, he helicoptered mid-air before landing awkwardly on his left leg.
He came down out of bounds at the Giants' 2.
"I thought, 'I might score a touchdown,'" Peerman said, laughing. "It might have looked like a rock trying to jump out of water."
Peerman hadn't seen a replay of the failed dive by the time reporters spoke with him Saturday. But he anticipated some good ribbing from teammates when the offensive meeting started later in the day.
"Yeah, that was probably not the best idea trying to do that," Peerman said. "Trying to get some style points, I guess."
Like Burkhead and Dennard, Peerman came out of the game right away and didn't return. He expects to practice again next week.
Safety Shawn Williams was the only other player who came out of the game but he quickly returned, playing through a right hand injury.