Vontaze Burfict won't be on the field for the first six weeks of the 2015 season, that much is true. But remember back to October 2014, when Burfict first experienced issues with his knee?
Following Cincinnati's 27-24 win over the Baltimore Ravens on October 26, 2014 in Week 8 of the season, the team found "something floating in his knee". Burfict said he thought it was only a bruise and underwent arthroscopic surgery the following day. The Bengals announced Burfict would miss a couple of weeks but could have a shot at returning to play two weeks later in Week 10 against the New Orleans Saints. A handful of other players around the NFL underwent the same procedure during the 2014 season and returned to play just weeks later.
We waited. And waited. And waited. And, finally, on December 9, a few days before the Bengals played the Browns in a Week 15 showdown, the Bengals placed Burfict on Injured Reserve, effectively ending his season. Yet, that wasn't enough for him to undergo surgery at the time. It took until early January for Burfict to decide to undergo microfracture surgery.
Microfracture surgery is tricky to come back from and very unpredictable. The hope was Burfict would possibly return for the beginning of the 2015 season, but on Saturday, the Bengals placed him on the Physically Unable to Perform list, which will keep him off-the-field until at least Week 8, due to the Bengals Week 7 bye.
Today, in an interview with the Enquirer, Burfict admitted his knee is feeling better than when he had his first scope back in October of last year.
"I feel good," Burfict told The Enquirer in his first interview this season. "I feel better than when I had the first 'scope. That's why I had to get the microfracture. But now I feel better than when I did before. So just keep going day-by-day and try and get to 100 percent."
If Burfict is medically cleared to practice after Week 6, his first game back in stripes will be against the Steelers in Pittsburgh. This weekend, Marvin Lewis said it was a difficult decision to have Burfict sit for six weeks, but it was the decision they made.
From the Enquirer story:
"It was simple – (Lewis) just sat me down, asked me how I felt, I told him how I felt, but he just feels I'm not all the way there in his eyes, that he's been watching me the last three weeks and there's slight things I need to work on," Burfict said. "I was just going to focus on my lower body, and I'm just putting everything together now, and in seven weeks he thought it was going to be practical for me to get back on the field. Now I'm going through my own little training camp you could pretty much say."
While some are apprehensive regarding whether Burfict will be able to return to his pre-injury form in 2015, his sights are set on Pittsburgh, "I'm looking forward to playing the Steelers," Burfict told the Enquirer, "and that's my goal."