When you stop and think about it, even now, days after the Cincinnati Bengals' season came to another early end, it is still rather amazing that the Bengals' defense was able to hold up for so much of the year despite the slew of injuries it had to deal with.
Namely, it's fairly remarkable that after a late-preseason injury hurt plans for using a cover linebacker, they were still able to adjust. It was equally impressive that after losing a proven defensive line vet like Robert Geathers early in the year, and Pro Bowl tackle Geno Atkins in the middle of it, that the unit was still able to pressure quarterbacks and swallow running backs.
It also was an accomplishment for the Bengals' secondary to adjust to cornerback Leon Hall's midseason injury, continuing to lock down certain opposing key receivers and force timely turnovers.
Cincinnati's defense faced its share of adversity this season and overcame it, as the end-of-season No. 3 ranking in total defense attests.
Defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer -- who could be on his way out for a head-coaching opportunity -- spoke earlier this week about how he would have liked to have seen his defense at full health. Had Atkins, Hall, Geathers and others been able to finish the season, there's no telling how good the unit could have been, Zimmer said.
"For us to be able to continue on [in the playoffs], I would have liked to see what we could have done if we had all hands on deck," Zimmer said. "We did good for the people that we had, and all the players, they worked their rear ends off for us. They were smart, they studied hard. We got guys in this locker room."
Zimmer likes "those guys," but even they might not be enough to keep him in town next season. He could be heading to Minnesota or Tennessee to become a head coach soon.
Whether Zimmer comes back or not, the Bengals still could enter next season with a pair of big injury concerns. Because of when their injuries came during the regular season, Hall and Atkins might not be ready for the first game of the season, let alone training camp. If that's the case, there is a chance that they could be put on the physically unable to perform (PUP) list later this offseason.
As we take this brief look at what others are saying about the Bengals, we begin Thursday's Morning Stripes with that issue:
Geoff Hobson of Bengals.com broached the possibility of a PUP listing for Atkins and Hall as he wrote about the road to recovery both are currently enduring. Hall has been here before. Before tearing his left Achilles in October, he tore his right Achilles in November 2011. He returned from that injury just in time for training camp in 2012. Atkins' ACL tear, which came on Halloween night, might not give him enough time to get back to 100 percent by late July.
The guys at the Cincinnati Enquirer have officially put the bow on their weekly "Beyond the Stripes" series. Each week during the season, they talked to a rotation of players at a local restaurant in a town-hall setting that allowed fans to show up and hear from some of their favorite team personalities. Their final guest of this season was offensive lineman Andrew Whitworth, who helped sum up the season.
Going way off the field now to suburban Atlanta. According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, former Bengals receiver Carl Pickens was arrested Sunday following an alleged altercation last month with his wife inside their Georgia home.