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Bengals LB Vontaze Burfict "still slightly hobbled"

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Everyone is trying to figure out what's taking Vontaze Burfict longer than expected to return. Fans largely believed that Cincinnati was withholding Burfict for a December run... but he's "still slightly hobbled".

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During his weekend mailbag, ESPN Bengals beat writer Coley Harvey conjectures on Vontaze Burfict's slow recovery from arthroscopic knee surgery and why he has yet to return to practice.

It's hard to tell why he hasn't gotten back to practice, but a cursory glance at his still slightly hobbled gait makes it apparent that he probably couldn't play a complete game.

Wait.

You mean to tell me that a procedure that was originally going to sideline Cincinnati's all-pro linebacker for two games, maybe three, and now going on five games, is "still slightly hobbled"?

We get that the Bengals wanted to keep Burfict away from any setbacks as the team prepares for a December run against Pittsburgh (twice), Cleveland and Denver. Not that it's a believable response, considering Cincinnati has constantly been a half-game away from facing last place... but we'd buy into it. Is there a chance that he could miss even more games? From that mailbag, it doesn't feel very optimistic, does it?

We'll keep watching him, but it's safe to say the Bengals and Burfict are taking things slowly until he's comfortable about returning and playing a full 60-minute game again.