As we start to get into the on-field action portion of the NFL offseason, mandatory minicamps will feature the large majority of the Bengals coming together to practice and prepare for the 2016 season. Minicamp opens on Tuesday and will take place through Thursday.
Unfortunately, there are still a few players who will miss next week's mandatory minicamp due to pre-existing injuries and other related issues. Let's recap who's expected to sit out and when they may return.
Eifert suffered an ankle injury in the 2015 Pro Bowl that, although considered minor at the time, now looks serious enough to potentially keep him out through the start of the 2016 season. He had surgery to repair the ankle in late May and is expected to undergo a three month recovery for the ailment. If that assessment is accurate, it should allow him to be ready by the third week of preseason. But, these early predictions are rarely exact. What we do know is that he is not going to be healthy enough to participate in mandatory minicamp or training camp in August.
A shoulder injury suffered against the Cardinals required surgery, which sidelined Dennard for the rest of the 2015 season. As it stands right now, he is still recovering from the surgery and isn't expected to return until training camp later this summer.
Due to a torn ACL suffered in Week 17 against the Baltimore Ravens, Thompson is currently rehabbing. His recovery time is expected to take a while and probably will likely result in his designation on the PUP list at the beginning of the season. If that is the case, he will definitely not be available until Week 7 of the regular season. So, go ahead and pencil him out for mandatory minicamp and training camp. Though, he will likely be present and rehabbing.
Kirkpatrick suffered a shoulder injury in Week 3 against the Baltimore Ravens last year and played through pretty much the whole 2015 season with that holding him back. He refused shoulder surgery because he didn't want to miss a significant amount of playing time, but that decision likely led to a poor 2015 campaign. He also didn't participate in drills during OTAs due to the issue and isn't expected to participate in mandatory minicamps in anything more than a limited role.
Fisher was one of two Bengals tackles who missed portions of OTAs, the other being Cedric Ogbuehi. However, there isn't any information surrounding why Fisher sat out and didn't attend practice, whereas we know that Ogbuehi's excuse is injury related. Given the lack of information so far, it's hard to say exactly what his status for mandatory minicamp will be.
Injury: Non-football injury
Although Hewitt isn't expected to be out for long, he did have a 'minor, non-football procedure' this offseason. At the moment, the exact details are unknown and it is hard to speculate what this means for his availability at mandatory minicamp. We do know that he was practicing on the rehab field on Day 1 of OTAs, so you would think that he'd be available at least in a limited capacity. But, at the moment, we just don't know.
At the moment, we can tell you that Maualuga did not participate in OTAs. He was seen at the facility during the stretch, but it is unknown whether he sat out due to an injury or another reason. With Vontaze Burfict suspended for the first three games of the 2016 season, it would be pretty rough for the linebacker corps if Maualuga had an injury that would sideline him, too. But, we just don't have enough information on his status at this time. It's possible Maualuga was just taking it easy during OTAs and will practice during minicamp. After all, OTAs are completely optional.
Ogbuehi missed the beginning of OTAs due to an undisclosed injury that ended up not being particularly serious, because he returned to practice on Tuesday. The injury he was sidelined with was not knee-related, so the ACL tear that kept him out for most of his rookie season doesn't seem to be hampering him now. As it stands, he is expected to be a participant in mandatory minicamp.