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Marvin Lewis remains vague on Vontaze Burfict, says, "When he's ready, he'll be ready"

Despite being eligible to practice on Monday, Cincinnati Bengals linebacker Vontaze Burfict remains on PUP. Lewis says, "when he's ready, he'll be ready."

Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

Cincinnati Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis is making it clear: Linebacker Vontaze Burfict will be ready when he's ready.

"He's done a good job on the rehab, and he continues to be on the rehab until he's not," Lewis said prior to Monday's practice. "That's just where we are. There's not a big thing. You guys are making more of it than there really is. When he's ready, he'll be ready. And that's when he'll come back to practice and we'll go from there. Other than that, we're wasting time talking about somebody that's not on the team."

Perhaps you know (and despise) the Marvinism, but idle speculation regarding the rehabilitation of a player is tricky -- especially from afar without any credible updates or an insider offering updates, to develop an informed talking point.

So, we wait.

According to league rules, players on the Physically Unable to Perform list are ineligible to practice until Week 7; Burfict was placed on PUP prior to training camp after spending the offseason rehabilitating from microfracture surgery. Cincinnati conducted a light practice session last week before resuming practice on Monday. Despite being eligible to practice while being surrounded by unsubstantiated optimism, Burfict continued working out with trainers on the rehab field while remaining on PUP and not practicing with his teammates.

When Burfict will be ready is a question of debate. However, the team is on the clock.

Now that Burfict, offensive tackle Cedric Ogbuehi and linebacker Sean Porter, are eligible to practice, the Bengals have another six-week window for each player to begin practicing. If they're unable to practice when this window expires, they remain on the PUP list for the rest of the season (a de facto version of Injured Reserve at this point). This time frame expires on December 1, 2015.

If the PUP/NFI list players suit up for an official practice between now and December 1, the Bengals will have 21 days to make a decision: 1) Activate the player to the 53-man roster 2) Release/waive the player or 3) Do nothing and keep the player on the Physically Unable to Perform list. If teams maximize all their windows, a player could be held out and not activated until well into December (like, AJ McCarron, who was activated December 9, 2014).

In addition, the  Bengals remains relatively healthy and have a 2.5-game lead over the second place Pittsburgh Steelers. There is no desperate need to get Burfict involved immediately. With that narrative stored in memory, consider Burfict hasn't had any contact since his Oct. 29 departure against Baltimore -- nearly a full calender year ago.

Cincinnati's all-star linebacker initially suffered a knee injury on Oct. 29, 2014 during a game against the Baltimore Ravens and underwent arthroscopic surgery soon after. When his knee wasn't responding to rehabilitation, he was placed on season-ending Injured Reserve on December 9 (the same day McCarron was activated), and eventually had microfracture surgery after the season ended.

Burfict was the Bengals' leading tackler in 2012 and 2013. In 2013, he totaled 204 stops, 94 more than the second-place finisher (Rey Maualuga). Burfict earned a roster spot on the Pro Bowl team that year and a second-team mention on the Associated Press All-Pro team. The Bengals signed Burfict to a contract extension (four-year, $19 million with $6.9 million guaranteed) on Aug. 27, 2014 keeping him in Cincinnati through the end of the 2017 season.