Bengals pair clear waivers, get placed on IR

CINCINNATI -- Two Cincinnati Bengals who were waived under an injury designation Tuesday when the team trimmed its active roster to 75 cleared waivers late Wednesday, allowing them to join the team's non-active roster.

Since linebacker J.K. Schaffer and rookie cornerback Lavelle Westbrooks weren't claimed off waivers by any other team Wednesday afternoon, they automatically revert onto the Bengals' injured reserve list. They will not count against the active roster total, but are permitted to remain with the organization as they rehab from their respective injuries.

Officially, their 2014 seasons are over. They won't be allowed to play in a game until next year.

That's not necessarily bad news for either player. Westbrooks was staring down the very real possibility of getting cut and having to establish himself elsewhere before the injury. He was expected to either be among those who got cut this weekend when the rosters were shortened from 75 to 53, or to get placed on the practice squad. The biggest difference between being healthy on the IR and being part of the practice squad is practice-squad players can at least train with the rest of the team each day. Westbrooks won't be able to practice until after the 2014 fiscal calendar ends in March.

Westbrooks had been sidelined the past two weeks by a thumb injury suffered in the Bengals' Week 2 preseason loss to the Jets.

In that same game, Schaffer took a blow to the head as he was trying to make a stop on a player who flipped into the end zone. Schaffer ended up suffering his second concussion of the preseason and has been shut down since. A Cincinnati native and former University of Cincinnati standout, Schaffer's inclusion on the IR means he'll get to stay in a familiar space while he recovers. Like Westbrooks, he had been facing the prospects of getting cut before the injury, primarily because the earlier concussion didn't afford him much time to prove himself this preseason.

A Georgia Southern product, Westbrooks was a seventh-round Bengals selection in May's draft. Schaffer went undrafted in 2012. He was part of the Bengals' 53-man roster last season, appearing in 10 games, including the wild-card round playoff loss to San Diego. He had just one defensive tackle and four on special teams.