Another offseason, another injury to recover from for Tyler Eifert.
We already knew Eifert was planning on having back surgery at some point this offseason. On Thursday, Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis not only shot down retirement rumors, but also gave an update on Eifert, saying the Pro Bowl tight end had back surgery on Tuesday.
Eifert was placed on season-ending Injured Reserve on Monday after missing last Saturday’s loss to the Texans. Lewis didn’t give any indicator on what Eifert’s outlook is for the offseason.
Injuries have plagued Eifert since he entered the NFL, and he has never completed a full 16-game season. That includes a 2014 season that saw him miss all but one quarter of a game with an elbow and shoulder injury.
Give the Bengals and Eifert credit for at least attacking the issue now, opposed to waiting to see if it heals on its own, something they tried last year with Eifert’s ankle injury, only to wind up having surgery on it in May, causing him to miss the first month of the regular season.
Now, they’ve gone ahead and had the surgery done, giving him ample time to rest, recover and rehab in hopes of returning in time for training camp in July, or hopefully OTAs in the spring. That’s easier said than done though, as back injuries can be very scary and unpredictable.
Until we know the extent of the surgery done, it’s impossible to realistically know what his recovery timetable is. Leon Hall reportedly had back surgery last offseason and did participate in the Giants’ training camp after being signed on August 4, 2016.
In eight games this season, Eifert caught 39 passes for 394 yards and five touchdowns. He now has 18 touchdowns over his last 21 games. He was a big reason why the Bengals won two straight games late this season and had a chance for a third vs the Steelers, but his back seemingly worsened during the Bengals’ 24-20 loss to Pittsburgh, leading him to miss last week’s game against the Texans, a 12-10 loss.
Had Eifert played the whole season, we’d probably be talking about a Bengals team with eight or more wins heading into Week 17, but instead, they’re 5-9-1 and left to wonder what could have been.
With backup tight end Tyler Kroft battling knee and ankle injuries, the Bengals will likely rely on C.J. Uzomah as the No. 1 tight end vs the Ravens in Week 17.