The Cincinnati Bengals' already questionable pass rush took another hit Sunday, as the team announced defensive end Michael Johnson suffered a concussion and was ruled out for the remainder of the season opener against the Baltimore Ravens.
The 30-year-old veteran has been a starter for the Bengals for much of his career with the exception of a one-year stint with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2014.
Johnson returned to the Bengals for the 2015 season and appeared in all 32 regular-season games for Cincinnati during the 2015 and 2016 seasons.
Last season, Johnson registered 45 tackles, but he ended with just 3.5 sacks, which marked his lowest total since 2013.
Despite his lack of big-time sack production aside from an 11.5-sack year in 2012, Johnson is a valuable contributor for the Bengals.
In addition to head coach Marvin Lewis being highly familiar with him, Johnson is a solid, two-way defensive end who excels against the run in addition to pressuring the quarterback from time to time.
Although he never quite lived up to the massive potential he flashed during his college days at Georgia Tech, Johnson is a big, reliable presence on the perimeter of Cincinnati's defense.
If Johnson lands on the shelf, Carlos Dunlap should continue to start on the opposite side, while rookie Jordan Willis and Chris Smith figure to vie for additional playing time.
While the Bengals have a strong and deep secondary, there is often a great deal of pressure on them to cover receivers for long periods of time due to Cincinnati's lack of a great pass rush.
That issue will be exacerbated if Johnson misses an extended period of time, and the Bengals will likely need a host of players to step up in order to replace what he brings to the table.