Cincinnati Bengals linebacker Vontaze Burfict is not entirely out of the woods, but according to Josina Anderson of ESPN, he has had his five-game suspension reduced down to three games following a violation of the league’s player safety rules.
The incident stems from a hit Burfict made on Kansas City Chiefs fullback Anthony Sherman during the team’s Week 2 preseason matchup, a preseason hit that will cost him regular-season time. If the three-game suspension is upheld, it will be the second consecutive season in which Burfict has missed the first three games of the year due to a violation of the league’s safety rules.
Last season, he went on to appear in just 11 games, but still managed to finish the season eclipsing the century mark in tackles for the third time in his career. He added a pair of sacks and a pair of interceptions to his total, while also forcing the third fumble of his career.
Now entering his sixth season with Cincinnati, Burfict has appeared in all 16 regular-season games just twice, a feat he has not accomplished since 2013.
A five-game suspension would have meant that Burfict would have not been eligible to return until late October, due to the timing of Cincinnati’s bye week. Instead, a three-game suspension puts him on the shelf for the entire month of September, allowing him to return on Oct. 1 for the team’s road game against the Cleveland Browns. He’ll miss games against the Baltimore Ravens, Houston Texans, and Green Bay Packers.
The Bengals open the season without him on Sept. 10 against the Ravens.