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Thursday, January 9, 2014
Morning Stripes: Atkins, Hall to go on PUP?

By Coley Harvey

When you stop and think about it, even now, days after the Cincinnati Bengals' season came to another early end, it is still rather amazing that the Bengals' defense was able to hold up for so much of the year despite the slew of injuries it had to deal with.

Namely, it's fairly remarkable that after a late-preseason injury hurt plans for using a cover linebacker, they were still able to adjust. It was equally impressive that after losing a proven defensive line vet like Robert Geathers early in the year, and Pro Bowl tackle Geno Atkins in the middle of it, that the unit was still able to pressure quarterbacks and swallow running backs.

It also was an accomplishment for the Bengals' secondary to adjust to cornerback Leon Hall's midseason injury, continuing to lock down certain opposing key receivers and force timely turnovers.

Cincinnati's defense faced its share of adversity this season and overcame it, as the end-of-season No. 3 ranking in total defense attests.

Defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer -- who could be on his way out for a head-coaching opportunity -- spoke earlier this week about how he would have liked to have seen his defense at full health. Had Atkins, Hall, Geathers and others been able to finish the season, there's no telling how good the unit could have been, Zimmer said.

"For us to be able to continue on [in the playoffs], I would have liked to see what we could have done if we had all hands on deck," Zimmer said. "We did good for the people that we had, and all the players, they worked their rear ends off for us. They were smart, they studied hard. We got guys in this locker room."

Zimmer likes "those guys," but even they might not be enough to keep him in town next season. He could be heading to Minnesota or Tennessee to become a head coach soon.

Whether Zimmer comes back or not, the Bengals still could enter next season with a pair of big injury concerns. Because of when their injuries came during the regular season, Hall and Atkins might not be ready for the first game of the season, let alone training camp. If that's the case, there is a chance that they could be put on the physically unable to perform (PUP) list later this offseason.

As we take this brief look at what others are saying about the Bengals, we begin Thursday's Morning Stripes with that issue: