CINCINNATI -- A day after earning another home blowout victory and receiving their third straight postseason berth, the Cincinnati Bengals placed three players under concussion protocol Monday, including linebacker Vontaze Burfict.
The second-year player was escorted back to the locker room early in the fourth quarter of Sunday's win over the Minnesota Vikings with a head injury. It wasn't clear exactly when the injury occurred, but Burfict did deliver a helmet-to-helmet hit late in the third quarter on one of his final plays of the game.
During the first-down play, Vikings quarterback Matt Cassel was hit by Burfict as he dropped into a slide at the end of a scramble. After his helmet made contact with Cassel's, Burfict was slapped with a 15-yard penalty for unsportsmanlike conduct. It added to the lengthy list of infractions Burfict has incurred this season. Entering the game, he was tied for third in the league with 11 penalties, eight of which were personal fouls. No other player in the league had been flagged by that point for as many personal fouls as he had.
Burfict also enters Week 17 leading the NFL in tackles with 157. That figure ranks as the most in recorded Bengals history. Since 1976, only one Bengal had more than 150 tackles in a single season. Tim Krumrie had 151 in 1988.
Along with Burfict, tight end Alex Smith and practice squad cornerback Onterio McCalebb were placed under concussion protocol. McCalebb presumably was injured during the Bengals' final practice last week.
There weren't any other injury updates issued by the Bengals on Monday, even though two others suffered injuries in Sunday's game. Right offensive tackle Andre Smith left in the third quarter with a sprained left ankle. Although he seemed confident after the game that he would be fine by this coming weekend, his official injury status remains uncertain. The status of tight end Tyler Eifert, who was run from the contest with a stinger, remains uncertain, as well.
This is the second straight week in which the Bengals have had three players under concussion protocol. Last week, linebacker James Harrison, defensive end Carlos Dunlap and offensive lineman Andrew Whitworth spent time under it.