It looks like the Cincinnati Bengals will not have Tyler Eifert for a few more games.
According to ESPN reporter Bob Holtzman, Eifert is still "a few weeks" away from returning. Holtzman adds that Eifert admits he is "a couple of weeks away," and that the Pro Bowl tight end has added 15 pounds of muscle. This comes after Eifert revealed Wednesday that he is only running at half speed right now.
Eifert is still recovering from a surgical procedure performed on his ankle earlier this summer; this is the same ankle that Eifert injured in the 2016 Pro Bowl, which was thought to be minor at the time. It was more serious than we all thought even after Eifert had the surgery done.
The initial three to five month recovery timetable from late May seemed to put Eifert in position to play as early as Week 1 vs the New York Jets, but it now looks like his recovery will keep him out for the first 4 games of the regular season, which coincides with the latest report from NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport.
None of this is really surprising, given the fact Eifert has yet to get in any kind of NFL practice so far. He has been doing rehab work for several weeks now, but it's safe to say he won't be back in Week 3 when Cincinnati hosts the Denver Broncos, nor should we expect him for a short turnaround against the Miami Dolphins on Thursday Night Football.
That means Week 5 at the Dallas Cowboys looks like the earliest we could see Eifert back on the field. Hopefully, that ends up being the case, because if not, the Bengals are going to look foolish for not keeping Eifert on PUP to open the season. That would have allowed Eifert to do exactly what he is doing right now, but currently, he counts against the 53-man roster. If he was on the PUP list, he wouldn’t count toward the roster, but wouldn’t be eligible to play until Week 7.
That could have, in turn, allowed the Bengals to keep someone else on the roster. Right now, the Bengals have only three running backs and two true tight ends (excluding Eifert), so both of those positions could use an extra body. Eifert is without a doubt the Bengals’ #1 tight end when healthy, but until he’s back on the field, Tyler Kroft and C.J. Uzomah will need to continue holding down the position.