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Bengals forced to make playoff push without top CB Hall

CINCINNATI -- Long after the rest of the Cincinnati Bengals had left the locker room on Monday, cornerback Leon Hall emerged on a pair of crutches, his left foot protected by a white medical boot.

He couldn't believe his season was over.

The Bengals put Hall on injured reserve Monday with a torn Achilles tendon in his left leg, ending his streak of playing in all 74 games since he was a first-round draft pick in 2007. Hall said he'd never missed a game in high school or at Michigan because of injury.

"I don't know how to deal with this type of situation," Hall said, stopping to talk to three reporters as he left the trainer's room. "I don't know if there's a right or wrong way. I don't know if it's totally hit me yet, just considering I haven't had an injury before."

The Bengals have lost their most durable cornerback heading into a pivotal game.

Hall got hurt as he planted his foot and changed direction just before halftime of the Bengals' 24-17 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday. Tests after the game found he'd torn the tendon from the bone. He'll have surgery later this week.

"I just planted and drove and it kind of felt like somebody had kicked me, but nobody was around me," Hall said.

The Bengals promoted cornerback Brandon Ghee off their practice squad to take his place. Ghee, a third-round pick in 2010, played in six games last season on special teams.

Cincinnati has lost both of its starting cornerbacks from last season. Johnathan Joseph left as a free agent for Houston and was replaced by free agent Nate Clements. Hall's injury leaves the Bengals relying on untested players.

"I wouldn't describe it as devastating," defensive backs coach Kevin Coyle said. "As you go through the season, this kind of thing happens throughout the league. It's disappointing. He's been our iron man. He hasn't missed a game. When other guys have been nicked up, he's been able to play somehow."

Adam "Pacman" Jones, who was the No. 3 cornerback last season before he hurt his neck, has missed the past two games with a pulled hamstring. He's expected to practice this week.

Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press

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