As expected, the Cincinnati Bengals are not expected to have Tyler Eifert to start the 2016 NFL season.
Eifert, who is recovering from offseason ankle surgery, is now expected to miss the first month of the season as he targets a return in Weeks 4-6, according to Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network. Rapoport is adding that it’s possible Eifert could push to be back in Week 3 when the Bengals play the defending Super Bowl champion Broncos for Cincinnati’s home opener.
#Bengals TE Tyler Eifert, who just started jogging, is targeting Weeks 4-6 for his return from ankle surgery, per source. His hope is Week 4— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) August 26, 2016
#Bengals TE Tyler Eifert is doing well after May surgery to repair a loose ligament. Maybe he could push it to Week 3, but CIN will be safe— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) August 26, 2016
This is a major blow for the team as Eifert is essentially the No. 2 option in the passing game and a big reason why the Bengals had so much offensive success last year. Eifert finished his third NFL season as the tight end with the most touchdowns (13), which was a team record for touchdowns by a tight end.
The fourth-year pro also finished with 52 receptions for 615 yards as he earned a spot in the Pro Bowl. Sadly, that's where the injury occurred, and it looks like it will be enough for him to miss a few games in 2016.
This is the second-straight offseason that Eifert spent recovering from a surgical procedure as a result of an injury suffered the previous season. A dislocated elbow in 2014 forced him to miss all but one quarter of the season and much of the 2015 offseason.
Unfortunately, this one seems like it will actually cost him games to start the ensuing regular season. Based on Rapoport's report, Eifert will miss Week 1 at the New York Jets, Week 2 at the Pittsburgh Steelers, Week 3 vs the Denver Broncos, and possibly Week 4 vs the Miami Dolphins. The Bengals play at the Dallas Cowboys in Week 5 and at the New England Patriots in Week 6. The Bengals face a very difficult opening month of the season, which they definitely would have liked to have Eifert play throughout.
Eifert just started jogging during practice this week and has spent all week on the rehab field.
This injury is further magnified due to Tyler Kroft currently being out with a knee injury. His return is hopeful but not certain for Week 1, meaning C.J. Uzomah may be the opening day starter at tight end.
We wish Eifert a speedy recovery and hopefully, he’ll be back on the field on the shorter end of this projected timeline.