Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Tee Higgins earned a lot of respect following the 2021 season when he displayed his toughness as the Bengals made an improbable run to the Super Bowl.
What made Higgins’ shoulder injury (and what followed) so dramatic was when it happened. Higgins was injured in Week 2 of the regular season and missed two games as a result of the injury. However, instead of having surgery to repair a torn left labrum at that time, Higgins told the coaches and medical staff he was willing to play through the pain.
He played the entire season with the injury, finishing the regular season with 74 receptions for 1,091 yards and six touchdowns. He followed that up with games of 96 and 103 yards in the AFC playoffs and 100 yards and two touchdowns in the Super Bowl.
He held off have labrum surgery on his left shoulder until March and the surgery was deemed a success and the repair discovered no complications. The team didn’t expose Higgins during OTAs as a precaution, but he is expected to be a full participant when training camp begins at the end of the month.
Injury protocol typically limits the amount of contact a player coming off surgery has when it isn’t necessary. One advantage the Bengals have is that Higgins isn’t expected to carry his offense in the same way that players like Cooper Kupp and Davante Adams have been the clear-cut No. 1 receiving option. If needed, Cincinnati has two other viable wide receiver options.
The Bengals have 2021 first-round draft pick Ja’Marr Chase, who exploded in his rookie season by leading the team with 81 receptions for 1,455 yards and 13 touchdowns. The team also has seven-year veteran Tyler Boyd, who caught 67 passes for 828 yards and five touchdowns last season and was critical on third downs. He didn’t have a single dropped pass last year and proved to be clutch when it mattered. Even if Higgins begins the season on a snap count, the Bengals have the depth at the position to bring him along slowly if needed.
Fantasy football outlook
Everything coming out of the Bengals camp is that Higgins will be ready for the start of the season and fantasy owners shouldn’t devalue him on draft day as a result. He proved last season his willingness to play through the pain of the injured shoulder and, as he enters his third year, he will be looking to get a contract extension next offseason. That provides the motivation many players need to gut out injuries and be productive, because the second contract is typically the deal that sets up a player and his family for life after football.
Given what Higgins displayed he was willing to go through last season for the betterment of the team, if he remains healthy, we’re looking at a No. 2 fantasy receiver in both prominent scoring formats.