Bengals' backfield loses speed threat in Irons

GEORGETOWN, Ky. -- Kenny Irons' knee injury has cost the Cincinnati Bengals some much needed speed to complement Rudi Johnson's power running.

Irons tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee in the preseason opener. The Bengals were hoping the rookie could add a new dimension to the offense, utilizing his quickness and speed to stretch defenses that look for Johnson to run up the middle.

"It's unfortunate that Kenny got hurt because I think Kenny would have had a chance to do some things if he kept coming but now we go in different directions," Bengals coach Marvin Lewis said Saturday.

Irons was injured in a 27-26 loss at Detroit on Thursday night. A play after gaining 11 yards on a run around the right end, Irons went around the left side for seven yards and then hurt himself attempting to make a quick cut.

"Unfortunately in this game people get hurt. Every team goes through it. You just move and go on. It's something we'll overcome and be fine with," Lewis said. "It doesn't change anything we do because we haven't done anything yet."

With the injury to Irons, a second-round draft choice from Auburn, Kenny Watson will continue serving as the main backup to Johnson. Watson has been effective as a third-down back, averaging 5.9 yards on 51 career carries, and he has 48 career receptions.

Irons' injury also creates opportunities for Quincy Wilson and rookie free-agent Curtis Brown. Wilson led the Bengals last preseason with 217 rushing yards.

"It's unfortunate because we had a lot of expectations for (Irons) and he was doing good, just finding his niche," Wilson said. "You never want to see somebody go down, but now is the time to step up and it's up to me and (Watson) to make it happen."

Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press

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