In a parity-rich league like the NFL, it’s kind of hard to sustain a legacy of poor play. When bad teams get good draft picks year in and year out, eventually, they’ve usually got no choice but to morph into a good team.
Oh, but then there’s the Bungles-err, Bengals. Since 1991, they’ve achieved exactly one season with a winning record: 2005, where they went 11-5 and promptly lost their first playoff game. Other than that, it’s been a pattern of head-melting futility. It seemingly hit its nadir last season, when a 4-11-1 record belied a horror show on offense, where the team ranked dead last in the league in yards and points on offense. But that was a result of losing longtime QB Carson Palmer to an elbow injury, and Palmer finally made his return to the team in exhibition play last night.
It ended poorly. Palmer had just completed a pass to his old pal, Chad Ochocinco* that ended up in a 55-yard gain when some defenders rolled up on his leg. Uh oh.
The Bengals’ first teamers had 170 total yards of offense, but there was a brief period of concern when Palmer suffered a high left ankle sprain.
Palmer said he sprained his ankle when he tried to pull the ball down on a busted play when a Saints’ defender rolled on it. He was wearing a boot on the leg after the game but said it was mainly for precautionary measures.
“It’s a high ankle sprain, it’s not bad,” said Palmer, who is hoping to play in next Thursday’s game at New England.
Sirs, if it’s actually a high ankle sprain, that’s bad. But if he’s not planning to miss any games, then it’s probably just a run-of-the-mill sprain, which can be take care of with enough tape.
But if Palmer’s can’t even get through the preseason without getting nicked and banged up, that’s a bad sign for the hapless franchise. Ankle injuries are notoriously slow to finish healing, especially without extended periods of rest. It’s not Palmer’s plant foot, so again, could be worse.
Afterwards, the Bengals denied the existence of “bad luck” as a tangible factor in their team’s success for the season. Then Cedric Benson stepped on a land mine and blew up, and his helmet severely concussed Laveranues Coles. So it goes.
*It’s been this long since he changed his name, and no, the novelty has not worn off at all. I cannot get over it. Now he’s on Twitter asking people to help him get an XBox gamer tag of “The Black Mexican.” Never change, Ocho.