With three games left in the 2017 NFL season, the Cincinnati Bengals will bring back quarterback Jeff Driskel. On Tuesday, the team announced that Driskel was being designated to return off of injured reserve, and he’ll begin practicing this week.
Driskel is not yet part of the 53-man roster, so it’s possible he still doesn’t play in a game this season, but this move does allow him to at least practice for the next three weeks.
His return starts a three-week window during which he may practice with the team without being counted against the 53-player active roster limit. He can be added to the roster at any time during the three-week period.
The Bengals are clearly showing a commitment to develop the former Florida and Louisiana Tech quarterback long-term after claiming him off waivers from San Francisco in 2016 and keeping him on the 53-man roster for the entire 2016 NFL season.
Driskel made the Bengals’ initial 53-man roster this season, but after he injured his throwing hand in the preseason, the Bengals put him on injured reserve. By keeping him on the initial roster, that left open the option to use the IR-return designation on him. The Bengals have two such designations this year but the only other player eligible to return is Tyler Eifert, who will not be returning this year.
This preseason, his first in Cincinnati, Driskel went 14/21 for 164 yards and one touchdown, a 66.7 completion percentage. That included eight first downs, a long of 30 yards and a quarterback rating of 106.1. He also had nine runs for 63 yards and one rushing touchdown.
With AJ McCarron hitting free agency this offseason (either as an RFA or UFA), the Bengals may see Driskel as a long-term backup option, which is why they’re allowing him to practice now and potentially play in games this season.