Cincinnati Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis said there has not been any sort of injury setback that has kept tight end Tyler Eifert out of the first two days of mandatory minicamp.
“We’re just getting him ready to be able to play football when it counts and when the season’s here,” Lewis said following Wednesday’s practice. “That’s all we’re shooting for. We’re in here on the turf so it’s a little bit different surface, so we’ll ease his way into things when the time comes.”
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Eifert was a limited participant in OTAs, which were held on the grass fields across the street. The artificial surface inside Paul Brown Stadium has only been down for a couple of weeks, and Tuesday’s practice was the first action of kind on it.
Asked whether he expects Eifert to be ready for the start of training camp July 26, Lewis said he didn’t know and the decision wasn’t his.
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“When (the doctors and trainers) tell him or release him to do what we can do, then he’ll be ready to go,” Lewis said. “The main thing is for him to stay up with everything mentally and when he can get the reps he can get that he was getting before when there wasn’t defense over there it was good. There’s no reason to get him jostled around right now until the time comes.”
The team’s first-round pick in 2013, Eifert has appeared in 39 of a possible 80 games in his career, including just two last year and eight in 2016.
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A free agent at the end of last season, Eifert agreed to return to the Bengals on an incentive-laden one-year, $4.6 million contract that could be worth as much as $8 million.
Another notable absence Wednesday was Geno Atkins, although the Pro Bowl defensive tackle did make an appearance 90 minutes into the two-hour practice.
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“He had a personal matter to tend to,” Lewis said. “He’s good.”
Among the other players not participating were defense back Josh Shaw, rookie cornerback Darius Phillips, undrafted rookie wide receiver Devonte Boyd and undrafted rookie offensive tackle Justin Murray, all of whom left Tuesday’s practice early with injuries.
Tight end Tyler Kroft, offensive lineman T.J. Johnson and running back Tra Carson continue to sit out as well.
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