Joseph Ossai suffered not just a wrist injury in the Cincinnati Bengals’ first preseason game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Aug. 14., he hurt his knee as well. The knee injury is likely to keep the rookie from taking a snap in his first NFL season, per reports.
NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero said Ossai is slated to have surgery this week for a meniscus injury. Head coach Zac Talyor confirmed Ossai injured his knee in the same game he was unable to finish due to hurting his wrist. Taylor did not have an official update on the specifics of Ossai’s knee injury and said the team is waiting on more information.
“There’s a couple more days to gather some more information, so I’m not gonna say anything there until it’s definitively one way or another,” Taylor said on Sunday.
If Ossai is unable to play this season, the loss could be significant for the Bengals. After finishing last in the NFL in sacks in 2020 with 17, Cincinnati expected Ossai to come in and make an impact right away. Defensive coordinator Lou Anarumo will have to look to others to replace the production they were hoping to get from him.
Ossai, Cincinnati’s third-round pick out of the University of Texas, had arguably one of the best preseason debuts of any rookie in the NFL. In Tampa, Ossai sacked Tom Brady on the Buccaneers’ first drive. He finished the game with five quarterback pressures and three tackles.
With Ossai expected to be unavailable to the Bengals for an undetermined amount of time, the team singed defensive end Noah Spence. The former second-round pick in 2016 was released by the New Orleans Saints last week. Tampa Bay drafted Spence with the No. 38 overall pick. During his three seasons with the Buccaneers, Spence started six games and recorded 6.5 sacks and 14 quarterback hits.
Spence was cut by Tampa prior to the start of the 2019 season and signed with the Washington Football Team where he lasted two months. The following season as he was getting ready for his first year with the New Orleans Saints, Spence suffered a torn ACL and was placed on injured reserve. The Saints re-signed Spence in free agency this offseason, but his second stint didn’t last long as he was released on Aug. 15.
Cincinnati worked Spence out before signing him and the 6-foot-2, 251-pound pass rusher will be able to practice with his new team on Sunday.
“We signed him and we'll get them up to speed, and again, he's shown well over the last couple years,” Taylor said. “(Mark) Duffner had him for a couple of years as well, so there's relationship there we'll have with the guy, so we know what he's capable of. I know he had a good workout the other day, he's eager to get going. He'll provide some good competition there at those defensive end spots, so we're excited to get to look at him.