CINCINNATI — The Bengals put quarterback Matt Barkley on injured reserve, leaving Jeff Driskel as the backup to Andy Dalton heading into the season.
Barkley hurt his left knee during the Bengals’ preseason finale Thursday night against Indianapolis. Kemoko Turay hit Barkley in the legs after he threw a pass, drawing a roughing-the-passer penalty. Barkley left to get the knee examined and didn’t return.
Driskel is a third-year player who broke the thumb on his passing had in the final preseason game last year and sat out the season. He has never appeared in an NFL game. The Bengals also waived seventh-round pick Logan Woodside, who is eligible to be signed to the practice squad if he clears waivers on Sunday.
The backup quarterback spot opened when AJ McCarron won his grievance and became a free agent after last season.
The Bengals also released 10th-year defensive end Michael Johnson as part of their moves to get down to the 53-man limit, although it could be a temporary separation. Johnson becomes a free agent and could re-sign with Cincinnati for lesser money.
Johnson has played all but one of his nine seasons with Cincinnati. He led the defensive line with 49 tackles and five sacks last season. The Bengals have infused young pass rushers into their rotation, including Carl Lawson and Jordan Willis.
Coach Marvin Lewis described Johnson as “one of those pillars who has been here and given everything he can.” Lewis indicated the Bengals are open to his return as they shape the roster over the next few days.
The move with Johnson came four days after the Bengals gave multiyear extensions to defensive end Carlos Dunlap and tackle Geno Atkins. The deals would pay more than $100 million combined if all terms are met.
The Bengals allowed cornerback Adam “Pacman” Jones to leave as a free agent in the off-season and released safety George Iloka, making the defence younger while saving money. Jones signed with Denver, and Iloka signed with Minnesota.
H-back Ryan Hewitt and centre T.J. Johnson also were released on Saturday. Hewitt was primarily a blocker — no carries and two catches last season — while Johnson became expendable when the Bengals drafted centre Billy Price in the first round.
Linebacker Vontaze Burfict went on the suspended list. He’ll miss the first four games for violating the NFL’s policy on performance-enhancing substances, the third year in a row that he’s suspended for the start of a season.
Cincinnati opens the season on Sunday, Sept. 9 at Indianapolis, which expects to have Andrew Luck back at quarterback for the first time in more than 20 months. Luck has recovered from a shoulder injury that required surgery.
The teams played in the regular season last year as well, with the Bengals winning 24-23 at Paul Brown Stadium on Dunlap’s interception return for a touchdown.