Fifth-year cornerback Rashad Bauman, who went to training camp vying for the starting nickel job in the Cincinnati Bengals' secondary, will have surgery Monday to repair a ruptured left patellar tendon and will miss the 2006 season.
Bauman, 27, hurt his knee late in Friday night's preseason victory at Buffalo. The Bengals suspected that the injury was serious, and an MRI examination confirmed their fears.
The former University of Oregon standout appeared in 11 games, with one start, for Cincinnati in 2005. He registered eight tackles from scrimmage, usually playing in nickel or dime situations, and was also a strong special teams performer.
In the competition for the nickel job this summer, it appeared that third-year veteran Keiwan Ratliff had moved ahead of Bauman and is the favorite to win the spot. And from a depth standpoint, the Bengals still have five solid cornerbacks and should be able to absorb the loss of Bauman.
Bauman, however, was much respected among his teammates, and he won the Ed Block Courage Award in 2005 after coming back following the 2004 death of his infant son. So there is a chance Bauman will be missed more in the locker room than on the field.
"He's been through so much, and he means so much to everybody around here," coach Marvin Lewis said Sunday. "He's a guy everybody wants to see succeed."
In four seasons, Bauman, who began his career as a third-round pick of the Washington Redskins in 2002, has played in 43 games, starting four. In his two seasons with the Bengals, he appeared in 15 games and started one. Bauman has 48 tackles, two interceptions and 12 passes defensed.
Cincinnati likely will place Bauman on injured reserve. It's also likely the team will lose backup safety and special teams standout Anthony Mitchell for the season. Mitchell suffered a Lisfranc foot sprain in the first preseason game.
Len Pasquarelli is a senior NFL writer for ESPN.com. To check out Len's chat archive, click here.