The Cincinnati Bengals are breathing easy in regards to star tight end Tyler Eifert.
While injuries are commonplace in the NFL, you never want to see a guy go down in a game that means nothing. This past Sunday during the Pro Bowl, which is more like a glorified game of flag football than a normal NFL game, Eifert left the game in the fourth quarter with what appeared to be a foot injury.
Thankfully, it was revealed today that it is only a sprained ankle and Eifert will recover with rest. This is good news for the oft-injured Eifert, who could not afford to suffer a major injury in the Pro Bowl of all places. He should be fine and ready to participate in organized team activities in the spring.
Eifert had it examined today. All he needs is rest. He'll be ready for any off-season work.— Geoff Hobson (@GeoffHobsonCin) February 2, 2016
The play happened when Eifert was being targeted on a pass in the fourth quarter by Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston, and as the big tight end nearly made the catch running full speed into the back of the end zone, the ball popped out as he hit the turf.
Eifert appeared to be in pain following the play and he didn't return to the game once he limped off the field. He was later seen with ice wrapped on his foot on the sidelines as trainers checked him out. Eifert underwent x-rays to ensure there was no damage, and was expected to see the Bengals' foot specialist in Cincinnati upon his return from Hawaii.
To this point in his three-year career, Eifert has missed a total of 20 games (including the playoff game in the 2014 season) due to a variety of injuries that include a stinger, concussion, dislocated elbow and a torn shoulder labrum. The latter of which caused Eifert to miss 16 games (including the playoffs) in 2014, and the surgery and subsequent rehab led to him losing weight and spending much of 2015 just getting back to his 2014 form.
Now that Eifert is entering another NFL offseason, once his foot heals, he can continue to better condition his body, and perhaps he'll be better at avoiding injuries in the future. In 2015, we saw corner Dre Kirkpatrick finally play in every game this past season after injuries in the preseason and regular season plagued his first three seasons in the league.
The same is true of star defensive end Carlos Dunlap, who missed 10 games during his first three seasons before playing in every game from 2013-15. Hopefully, we begin seeing Eifert toughen up to the point he can last a full season going forward.
After all, not many players account for 13 touchdowns in one season, so any time Eifert is out of the lineup, it's a big loss for the Bengals offense.