CINCINNATI — The exact nature of David Pollack’s neck injury remains a bit of a mystery, but this much is true: The Bengals’ secondyear linebacker will miss the rest of the season.
The Bengals placed Pollack on injured reserve yesterday, a day after he was injured tackling Browns running back Reuben Droughns early in Cincinnati’s 34-17 victory in Paul Brown Stadium.
Pollack spent Sunday night at University Hospital and was fitted with a protective halo to immobilize his neck. Such devices are common for neck fractures. A woman purporting to be Pollack’s wife, Lindsey, sent an e-mail to Cincinnati.com saying Pollack had a fracture of the C6 vertebra.
Bengals coach Marvin Lewis disputed that.
“I spoke with Lindsey,” he said during his news conference. “She did not send an e-mail. I don’t know where the e-mail originated, so don’t follow a rumor, OK? ”
Asked whether the Bengals’ 2005 first-round draft pick sustained a broken neck, Lewis said, “I don’t know. Broken is a big word.”
Lewis did say Pollack did not sustain spinal-cord damage and that the injury likely is not career threatening.
Pollack is expected to wear the halo for several weeks, and if all goes well, he will avoid having to have surgery, Lewis said.
Pollack was in good spirits, the coach said.
“Once they were able to put him in the halo, he was able to watch TV and watch the games,” Lewis said. “He’s an amazing guy. It’s a shame that it happened and we’ll make the best of it. Hopefully, he’ll be able to come back and not miss a beat.”
Pollack will be replaced in the lineup by Rashad Jeanty, a former Canadian Football League player who was impressive while Pollack missed time with a hamstring injury.
Lewis said the Bengals would also be without center Rich Braham (deep knee bruise) for Sunday’s game at archrival Pittsburgh. Braham likely will miss more than the Steelers game, Lewis said.
Safety Dexter Jackson is highly unlikely to play against the Steelers because of a sprained ankle, and receiver/kick returner Tab Perry was on crutches with a right hip injury. He said doctors had not given him a final diagnosis.
Considering the opponent, the rash of injuries comes at an inopportune time. Lewis believes the Bengals have the deepest bench of his tenure, and now it will be tested.
Second-year center Eric Ghiaciuc will replace Braham. Veteran Kevin Kaesviharn, who was pressed into starting duty last season because of injuries, will take over for Jackson.
The news wasn’t all bad on the injury front. Lewis was optimistic that receiver T.J. Houshmandzadeh (heel) and left tackle Levi Jones (ankle) would be able to play Sunday, and he said receiver/punt returner Antonio Chatman (groin) is improving. All three missed the Browns game.
Receiver Chad Johnson also pronounced himself fit after taking a ferocious hit from Browns safety Brian Russell that required stitches in his chin. Johnson was discombobulated in the locker room after the game. Yesterday, he said he had no memory of the hit but that he felt good enough hours after the game to go skating.
“I’m serious,” he said. “I went skating.”
Mindful of his own reputation for inciting defenses with his mouth, Johnson took no umbrage at Russell’s hit.
“As a defensive back or a safety with that opportunity to hit the person who talks all of the trash, I think I’d have done the same thing,” Johnson said.
Russell’s hit knocked Johnson’s helmet off his head. He said it was the hardest hit he’d ever taken.
“He has a great story to tell his grandkids when he gets old about how, ‘I was never able to stop 85, but I did knock him out.’ ”
Asked whether he knew Russell well, Johnson replied, “I do now.”
THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH