Update: It's official, Burfict will begin practicing today:
NEWS: #Bengals clear LB Vontaze Burfict (@King55Tez) to resume practicing with the team. pic.twitter.com/xtLnH4yGO1— Cincinnati Bengals (@Bengals) October 29, 2015
The Cincinnati Bengals may be on the verge of making as big of a midseason addition as any NFL team will make.
Pro Bowl linebacker Vontaze Burfict is set to make his 2015 practice debut today when the teams hits the field for their Thursday session, according to the Cincinnati Enquirer. This comes after Burfict got a "good evaluation" from specialist Dr. Neal ElAttrache on Wednesday, enough so that the belief was that Burfict was healthy enough to practice, but needed to go-ahead from Cincinnati.
Burfict will still need clearance from the Bengals' medical staff to practice, but it looks like he'll be getting the green light for Thursday's practice. This will be the first documented practice session of any kind for Burfict this season, though he's gotten several sessions of work on the rehab field. It's still not realistic to expect Burfict to play Sunday vs the Pittsburgh Steelers, and next Thursday against the Cleveland Browns is even a stretch on a short turnaround.
Week 10 against the Houston Texans looks like the best bet for his return date. Whenever Burfict ends up coming back, it is great news that he can finally being practicing with his teammates again. It also means that he will likely return at some point in the coming weeks after undergoing microfracture surgery this offseason, a procedure that can keep athletes out of play for a year.
In case you need a refresher, Burfict opened the regular season on the Reserve/PUP list, which prevents players from playing and practicing during the first six weeks of the season. Players also do not count against the 53-man roster when they get this designation. Once activated, the team has a three-week window to make a decision on whether the player will remain on PUP for the rest of the season, be released or be activated to the 53-man roster.
That means if Burfict does in fact practice today as reported, the Bengals will need to make a decision on him by Thursday November 19 on whether to bring him to the 53-man roster or end his season by keeping him on PUP.
If Burfict does join the 53-man roster, another player will need to be released or added to the Injured Reserve list, if they're injured.