CINCINNATI — Cincinnati Bengals defensive end Sam Hubbard is feeling fortunate following an injury that was more severe than was initially believed.

A right ankle issue that kept him out of two games last season required significant offseason surgery. On Monday, Hubbard said that he had a complete deltoid reconstruction in his ankle and a TightRope procedure to repair the ankle.

“I’m thankful that I made it out with no cartilage damage and stuff like that, but it’s all fixed,” Hubbard said.

The seventh-year player out of Ohio State said the issue bothered him as early as training camp in 2023. However, it became more severe later in the year. He appeared to aggravate the injury in a Week 9 win over the Buffalo Bills and missed the next two games.

At the end of the season, a fluoroscopy revealed that it wasn’t a routine ankle sprain.

“There was a lot of instability (in the ankle) that we found out later,” Hubbard said.” “Probably should have been fixed earlier, but you didn’t know until we went in there.”

The reason he played through the issue, he said, was to give the Bengals a better shot of winning in the absence of quarterback Joe Burrow.

Up until that point, Hubbard said he was playing at career-high levels. Through the first nine weeks of 2023, Hubbard ranked 28th in the NFL in pass rush win rate as an edge rusher (ESPN metric powered by NFL Next Gen Stats). From when he returned to the field on Week 12 until the end of the season, Hubbard ranked 49th out of 54 players in that category.

“I kind of wanted to just be out there and was doing the best I could,” Hubbard said. “I did want to burn that film from the back half of the year, but I’m going to get back to my old self. Got a long offseason of work ahead and I’m excited to be back with the guys.”