The Bengals began OTAs on Tuesday, but several players were limited or sidelined for various reasons.
That included rookie wide receiver Auden Tate, tight end Tyler Kroft, offensive tackle Jake Fisher, safety Shawn Williams and tight end Tyler Eifert.
Eifert was the least surprising of the bunch, being that he’s recovering from multiple surgeries from the 2017 season. That included back surgery and a procedure to remove a cyst from his knee.
The good news is Eifert is expected to be ready for the start of the 2018 season, though it’s unclear when he’ll return to on-field drills during the offseason as he enters a contract year after signing a one-year deal.
Also entering a contract year is Kroft, who enjoyed a breakout season in 2017. It’s unclear what’s keeping him sidelined right now. He needs a big 2018 season to ensure his next contract is a nice payday across multiple seasons.
#Bengals rookie wideout Auden Tate didn’t have a helmet to start the day and he joins tight end Tyler Kroft on the side field to begin the OTA.— Jim Owczarski (@JimOwczarski) May 22, 2018
Tate, a seventh-round rookie out of Florida State, cannot afford to miss any time as he fights for a roster spot. Hopefully whatever is keeping him sidelined is nothing major, as he needs to be on the field as soon as possible to boost his chances of making the final 53-man roster.
Fisher is cleared from a 2017 heart surgery, but what held him out on Tuesday is a shoulder injury that isn’t major and should be healed up in time for training camp. He’s expected to be a strong contender for the starting right tackle spot after initially winning that spot in 2017 before landing on injured reserve.
As for Williams, it doesn’t appear whatever keeping him sidelined is serious as he was running during Tuesday’s session:
Shawn Williams not taking any reps. Running sprints across field between plays. No reps in 11s for Eifert or Fisher either. #Bengals— Jay Morrison (@JayMorrisonCMG) May 22, 2018
Now entering his sixth NFL season, Williams is getting a push for his starting spot after the Bengals spent a second-round pick on Wake Forest safety Jessie Bates. It’s hard to see George Iloka losing his starting spot, so Williams probably needs to have a good offseason and preseason to keep his starting role.
Update: Jake Fisher’s injury has been revealed as one to his shoulder. The original article referenced that the Bengals may have been taking it slow with him due to his heart condition. It appears his shoulder is the only reason he was held out and he could be back late in the OTA schedule.