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Injured Bengals making progress toward return

The Bengals are hoping guys like Cedric Ogbuehi and Darqueze Dennard can get back to practice soon and be ready to perform in Week 1.

NFL: Carolina Panthers at Cincinnati Bengals Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

With just under three weeks until the regular season kicks off, the Bengals continue to get healthy in hopes of being close to full strength for Week 1.

That big matchup in New Jersey with the Jets already looks like one of Cincinnati's toughest games this year, so having as many injured players as they currently do could be very costly. As many as five key players could miss that game based on who's banged up right now, but everyone looks to be closing in on a return.

On Monday, tight end Tyler Kroft, cornerback Darqueze Dennard, tight end Tyler Eifert, and offensive tackle Cedric Ogbuehi were all working on the rehab field during Bengals practice. All four players are iffy to play in Week 1, so seeing them at least working on their conditioning on the rehab field is a positive sign.

However, one notable absentee has been linebacker Vontaze Burfict. He sat out of practice on Sunday and didn’t even travel to Dayton and he wasn't practicing on Monday either. Even though he's suspended the first three games of 2016, it seems strange to be giving him that much rest, so we'll keep monitoring this situation.

As for the guys eligible to play in Week 1, Kroft is dealing with a knee injury suffered early in training camp. It was projected to keep him out for 4-6 weeks, making his Week 1 availability questionable. Seeing him able to do conditioning work bodes well for his return, which could see him being the starting tight end.

That's because Eifert is just now able to jog again as he works his way back from ankle surgery. It's still unclear if he plays in Week 1, which makes Kroft's return much more imperative. Eifert is coming back from not taking part in football activities since the Pro Bowl when he injured his ankle.

Kroft got a full offseason of work and some practices in before going down three weeks ago. His body is far more close to being ready for an NFL game than Eifert’s, even if they’re both doing the same kind of rehab work.

Dennard is dealing with what was initially called a minor ankle injury that may sideline him a week or so. We're now three weeks into that recovery, which looks like it was from something more serious than just an ankle sprain. It’s possible it was a high ankle sprain, which would explain him missing a month of action if he doesn't return to practice this week.

It also sounds like Dennard and Eifert got to engage in a little boxing for their conditioning work.

As for Ogbuehi, he suffered a toe injury in the first preseason game that has sidelined him for almost two weeks now. He's the starting right tackle if he can stay healthy. However, Week 1 against a strong Jets pass rush will make his starting debut a tough one, especially if he's misses the third and fourth preseason games after missing the second.

One other injury note: Backup offensive lineman Alex Redmond sat out after suffering an undisclosed injury against the Lions. Redmond also sat out Sunday's practice in Dayton. He's vying for a spot on the practice squad so he’ll need to get in every practice possible going forward to earn that job.