CINCINNATI (AP) -Middle linebacker Ahmad Brooks will have surgery for a torn groin muscle, another setback for the Cincinnati Bengals' reeling defense.
The Bengals placed Brooks on injured reserve Wednesday, ending his season. He played in a season-opening 27-20 victory over Baltimore, but hurt his groin in the first series against Cleveland a week later. He hasn't played since then.
Tight end Nate Lawrie was promoted from the practice squad to take his place. Lawrie played in all four preseason games for Cincinnati and in the season opener.
Receiver Skyler Green, waived by the Bengals on Monday, took Lawrie's place on the practice squad.
Middle linebacker has been a trouble spot for the Bengals since Takeo Spikes insisted he wanted out after the 2002 season, tired of the team's losing. Coach Marvin Lewis has tried to find someone like Ray Lewis, who anchored his record-setting defense in Baltimore, but the position has been in transition during his five years in Cincinnati.
``The position is the ghost of Takeo, I guess,'' Lewis said Wednesday. ``It's haunted. It's been an interesting thing. Anyway, it is what it is, and we've got to go on.''
Lewis thought he'd found his middle linebacker when the Bengals took Odell Thurman in the second round of the 2005 draft. He was suspended for the 2006 season for repeatedly violating the NFL's substance abuse policy, and commissioner Roger Goodell declined to reinstate him for the 2007 season.
The Bengals took Brooks in the supplemental draft last year, and were counting on him to fill the role this season. The injury forced them to shuffle their linebackers again, a factor in the defense's ranking among the league's worst.
``It's been harder on him than us,'' Lewis said. ``He didn't get a lot of time to play as a rookie. In some ways, maybe, this is a good thing, that he's had to learn and go about this the right way. He's had to attend meetings and learn, and learn how to be a professional.''

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