Burfict had microfracture knee surgery and initial post-surgery reports said that he could be recovered by the start of training camp.
This week, the team's website said that Burfict's status was "up in the air" and that a return by the start of the season would be a "tight call".
If Burfict isn't ready by the opener, the Bengals may choose to put him on the physically unable to perform (PUP) list.
However, when the surgery was performed in October, it was not reported to be microfracture surgery. Dr. Neal ElAttranche confirmed Sunday he performed microfracture surgery on Burfict's knee.
"I don't see any reason, if this thing heals like we want and we think it will, why he won't be back like he was," said ElAttrache. "Microfracture has a bad connotation, but there are plenty of guys who have come back and been able to play like before. But it's not really news when it works out."
ElAttrache said he believes Burfict should be ready at full strength for the start of training camp.
Burfict's season was cut short by the knee injury, allowing him to play just five games in 2014, totaling 29 tackles.
“He has to work his tail off. He has to work harder now than he did to get here,” coach Marvin Lewis said. “Everyone in his inner circle has continued to reinforce that. He has to work harder now than he did to get here.”
Burfict had 29 tackles and a forced fumble in five games this season. He had 298 combined tackles and four sacks in the previous two years.
"He's heard from a lot of different people (their) recommendations, and then he's going to have to make a decision on what's best to go forward," Lewis said.
The coach added that Burfict is expected to make a decision on whether to undergo further surgery in the next few days. The linebacker isn't a lock to be ready for the start of next season.
Burfict's season ends with 29 combined tackles, one forced fumble and one fumble recovery in five games.
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