Bengals’ Wilson still more than two weeks from full return

CINCINNATI -- Logan Wilson is getting closer to a full return following offseason shoulder surgery, but the Cincinnati Bengals are waiting until he’s beyond the six-month post-op mark to push him physically.

The third-year linebacker played through the end of the 2021 season with a torn labrum and his decision to hold off on surgery paid off as he was a key contributor to the team’s run to the Super Bowl.

So far in training camp, Wilson has been mainly limited to individual drills, but on Thursday he got into 7-on-7s and said Friday he came out of it feeling good. He should be a full participant by around Aug. 23, he said.

“It was just good to be back out there doing something,” Wilson said. “At least I’ve been doing individual, but it’s just not quite the same when you actually get to do some team type stuff.”

Wilson said he’s not worried about contact, but the Bengals are just playing it smart by taking it slow and easing him back into things. The 7-on-7s are more controlled and there’s more space to move, so it’s a less risky way to work him into team drills.

That will continue to be the plan until he reaches the six-month point.

“They just want to wait up for six months, because of my repair being in the back of my shoulder, the posterior part of my shoulder, just in the position I play, they just want to make sure it’s fully healed, which it probably is now, but it’s better to be safe than sorry,” Wilson said. “And so, you know, I’m just trying to take it one day at a time and just control what I can, use the limited amount of time I get to get myself better.”

Wilson had a breakout second season in the NFL last year, while also taking on more of a leadership role in becoming the defense’s communicator to relay the calls from the coaches. He finished the regular season with 100 total tackles, five tackles for loss, four interceptions, four passes defended, one forced fumble and one sack in 13 games.

In the playoffs, he was solid but especially came up big in the divisional round win against Tennessee when he picked off Ryan Tannehill’s pass with 28 seconds left as the Titans were trying to cross midfield for a go-ahead score. Instead, the Bengals used the final time on the clock to move into field goal territory for Evan McPherson’s game-winner.

Perhaps the more talked about moment in his postseason wasn’t one Bengals fans want to remember, though. Wilson was called for defensive pass interference on what the team thought was a clean pass breakup of Matthew Stafford’s third-down pass to Cooper Kupp in the Super Bowl with Cincinnati clinging to a 20-16 lead against the Rams. Los Angeles ended up scoring a touchdown four snaps later to win the game.

Ironically, Super Bowl referee Ron Torbert was one of the officials helping at Bengals practice Thursday.

“It’s in the past,” Wilson said, noting he didn’t even realize that was the same official that made the penalty call. “There’s nothing we can do about it at this point, just move on.”

Wilson’s focus is on getting healthy and making sure he’s physically ready for Week 1. If that means playing in the preseason finale, he is up for it, but he said he doesn’t necessarily need it. He would be comfortable as long as he’s getting practice reps in.

So what’s the next step for him in Year 3? He doesn’t have any specific goal except to keep improving.

“I think just build off of where I ended that last year and just keep growing,” Wilson said. “I mean, there’s always more you can learn and continue to learn from, you know, within this defense and through a new coach, and I just want to soak up all the information. I can just continue to grow as a player and do whatever I can to help his team be successful.”

The linebacker room was decimated by injury last year, starting when now-departed veteran Jordan Evans went on injured reserve with a knee injury in Week 5 and followed by Akeem Davis-Gaither suffering a season-ending foot injury in Week 9.

Defensive coordinator Lou Anarumo is expecting the linebacker corps to pick up where it left off before that last injury.

“We had a good thing going through seven or eight games,” Anarumo said. “These guys picking up where they left off and just knowing we have the guys we have in reserve to help is huge. The (Joe) Bachies of the world that played significant roles for us last year. I’m excited to see those guys get back out there together.”

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