As expected, the Cincinnati Bengals have several players not fully participating at the start of OTAs.
That includes veterans Tyler Eifert and Giovani Bernard, who are still recovering from surgeries that will likely sideline them for all of the OTAs. They are working on the rehab field this week, so that’s good news for their recovery timelines.
However, there were some unexpected players who joined them on the rehab field, including rookie defensive back Brandon Wilson and third-year tight end C.J. Uzomah.
Eifert, Gio and Uzomah on rehab field. Dre Kirkpatrick here but not working with right wrist wrapped. #Bengals— Jay Morrison (@JayMorrisonCMG) May 23, 2017
Also, John Ross not here by rule. Rookie Brandon Wilson in uniform but now off to side doing rehab work. #Bengals— Jay Morrison (@JayMorrisonCMG) May 23, 2017
But it looks like Wilson’s injury is minor, as he was able to take part in on-field drills in the later portion of practice:
After short stint on rehab field after team stretch, Brandon Wilson (40) back with DBs for install#Bengals pic.twitter.com/My6eNApv3y— Jay Morrison (@JayMorrisonCMG) May 23, 2017
Wilson was one of the Bengals’ two sixth-round draft selections, and the team actually traded up to select the former Houston cornerback. He’s expected to play some corner, safety and possibly even running back with the Bengals, but it looks like he’s sticking to safety in OTAs for the time being.
Eifert is recovering from back surgery that could sideline him for OTAs, but he’s expected to be back for the start of training camp. Injuries limited Eifert to just eight games last season, and he’s entering a contract year in 2017 under the fifth-year option of his rookie deal.
Bernard is coming off a torn ACL suffered in Week 11, the first major injury he’s suffered in his four-year NFL career. Even so, that’s a brutal injury for any player to come back from, let alone a running back who puts so much strain on his legs with cutting changing directions and accelerating.
It’s why we often don’t see backs return to their previous form after tearing their ACL, outside of the occasional freak like Adrian Peterson. Though, Bernard tore his other ACL in college, and recovered just fine, enough so that he was a second round draft pick by the Bengals.
The good news is Bernard seems to be on pace for a full recovery and possibly be back in time for the start of next season. Seeing him on the rehab field would seemingly indicate he’s close to being cleared for on-field work, though we probably shouldn’t expect him to be practicing on the first day of training camp in July.
Uzomah is entering his third NFL season after becoming a decent backup last season while Eifert was injured. However, a calf injury led to Uzomah rarely seeing the field during the second half of last season.
As for rookie wide receiver John Ross, he’s not present for OTAs as NFL rules prohibit players who attended schools on a quarter system from participating in drills until graduation. That means Ross won’t be back in Cincinnati until mid-June. Regardless, he’s also recovering from shoulder surgery, which is expected to sideline him until the start training camp. The Bengals expect him to be ready for the start of the preseason, but he will miss OTAs.