The Bengals were back on the practice field Thursday, but will soon be off to Jacksonville for preseason game No. 3.
The annual dress rehearsal game is always the biggest week of the preseason, not to mention the best glimpse of the 2016 Bengals we'll get before Week 1.
Unfortunately, even this won't be a great look at the team Cincinnati hopes to roll through the season with. Among those sitting out of Thursday's practice due to injury were Darqueze Dennard, Jake Fisher, Alex Redmond, Cedric Ogbuehi, Tyler Eifert, Tyler Kroft, Vontaze Burfict, and Mario Alford.
Also not present was A.J. Green, but have no fear. Green was merely joining his pregnant wife for a hospital visit.
The only mystery among the injured players is Burfict, who has now missed a full week of action. The Bengals have not disclosed why he's being held out. Some think it's just to give younger backers more snaps, but that seems hard to believe with a player who could still do some individual work and just sit out the team workouts, if that were the the case.
Instead, Burfict continues to work on the rehab field with the rest of the injured Bengals. Even though he will miss the first three games of the season, you still hate to see a key player sidelined. In fact, Burfict could use practice time since he won't get any kind of contact practicing in for the first three weeks while barred from the Bengals facilities.
As for the rest of the injured Bengals, it continues to look like progress in the right direction for everyone. Kroft is still vying for a Week 1 return, which is crucial as Eifert still looks questionable for that game. The Bengals badly need one of those guys to be healthy against a stout Jets defense.
Dennard continues to work his way back from a significant ankle injury that's sidelined him for the entire preseason thus far. We should not expect him to play in Jacksonville on Sunday.
We need to see Alford playing if he's going to make the 53-man roster, but his ankle injury still has him sidelined. At this point, he's more likely to be on the practice squad than the final roster.
We should also not expect to see Ogbuehi on Sunday while his toe injury still sidelines him. Fisher probably won't be playing either with his knee/ankle injury. Both were on bikes today at practice and are hoping to be back for Week 1. They’re making enough progress to feel cautiously optimistic about at least one of them playing against the Jets.