Bengals lose 3 starters in first 5 minutes of preseason opener; Wharton gone for year

Wharton's season might have ended three plays into the first preseason game. (US Presswire)

The first quarter of their first preseason game of the 2012 season has not been kind to the Bengals. In fact, coach Marvin Lewis might want to get his second-stringers in the game against the Jets very soon. Like, right now.

Less than five minutes into the game, guard Travelle Wharton, linebacker Rey Maualuga and defensive end Carlos Dunlap were injured on separate plays and had to be helped off the field.

On the third play for the offense, Wharton went down, and though he walked to the cart, he still had to be driven off the field. He suffered a right knee injury, and he’s out for the night. Then, when the Bengals went on defense, Maualuga and Dunlap went down with right knee injuries (both are doubtful to return to the game).

Luckily for all -- and we don’t mind beating this joke into the ground -- punt protector Tim Tebow is in attendance, and surely after the game, he’ll help heal whatever injuries have been suffered.

UPDATED (8:58 p.m. ET): According to's Jason La Canfora, Dunlap's injury appears to be a sprained knee and is not considered serious.

UPDATED (Aug. 11, 1:00 p.m. ET): Marvin Lewis told reporters Saturday that it appears Wharton's injury is a season-ender. That means Clint Boling will be moved into the starting left guard spot.

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