Head coach Marvin Lewis said Eifert (back) hasn't suffered any setbacks, but he's unsure what his availability will be for the start of training camp, Jay Morrison of the Dayton Daily News reports. "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 when asked if Eifert would be ready for training camp. "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."
Eifert was limited at OTAs in May and isn't participating in the team's mandatory minicamp currently, which has brought up some concerns regarding Eifert's training camp availability. While coach Lewis didn't necessarily put those concerns to rest Wednesday, he did make it sound as if the Bengals were simply being cautious with their No. 1 tight end and there hasn't been any sort of aggravation. That likely means Eifert is still progressing as expected and further updates should be provided as the start of training camp nears.
The exact reasoning for Eifert's absence is rather unclear after the tight end was a limited participant in OTAs, but head coach Marvin Lewis suggested that it was health related, as that is the only reason why a player would be absent from minicamp. Whether Eifert re-aggravated an injury or not is still to be determined, but the Bengals should have an official update on his status at some point this week if he remains sidelined.
Eifert (back) didn't take part in 11-on-11 work during the first round of OTAs, Jim Owczarski of The Cincinnati Enquirer reports. "I feel good. I'm on schedule," Eifert said. "This has been part of the plan to stay monitored as we progress through here. I don't want to go out there and have any setbacks or anything, so just methodically moving forward. The plan is to go into camp full speed but there's nothing keeping me back from doing that right now."
Eifert received medical clearance in February but was limited in his weight-lifting regimen throughout the offseason. His most recent comments confirm he's pain free and is merely being held out of some activities as part of a plan to reduce stress on his back. The Bengals re-signed Eifert on a one-year, $5.5 million contract in March that is worth up to $8.5 million with incentives, with Cincinnati crossing its fingers that the tight end can stay healthy for more than half a season for the first time since 2015. He was injured in September and had the third back surgery of his career in October.
Eifert recently indicated that he still isn't allowed to squat or perform exercises that "load the spine," Jim Owczarski of Cincinnati.com reports. "It's important to stay healthy whether you've been hurt or not, but I think I'm obviously in a unique situation with the amount of games I've missed," the tight end said. "I'm doing everything I can as far as maintenance goes and all that stuff so I can stay on the field -- just doing what I can."
Eifert, who originally injured his back last September, received medical clearance from the esteemed Dr. Robert Watkins in February and has since resumed running and performing select weightlifting exercises. However, the Bengals are likely going the extra mile to minimize the workload they put on their standout tight end with the start of the regular season still over four months away. It isn't clear how long Eifert may be operating under restrictions, but it wouldn't be a complete surprise if he's still being babied when training camp opens in late July. Eifert is set to play the 2018 campaign on a one-year, $5.5 million deal that has a maximum value of $8.5 million with incentives.
Eifert can earn $8.5 million in 2018 if he catches 65 or more passes for 650 or more yards and eight or more touchdowns, Jim Owczarski of The Cincinnati Enquirer reports.
Looking to return from the third back surgery of his football career, Eifert re-signed with the Bengals on a one-year, $5.5 million contract that also includes $3 million in incentives, which kick in for $250,000 apiece at 50 catches, 500 yards and five touchdowns. He'd earn another $250,000 for every five receptions, 50 yards or one touchdown thereafter, with the incentives maxing out at 65-650-8. It isn't entirely out of the question that Eifert hits the max value, considering he caught 52 passes for 615 yards and 13 touchdowns in 13 games in 2015. Injuries limited him to 10 appearances the past two seasons, but he at least remained efficient with 8.5 yards per target and five touchdowns on 33 catches in that stretch. The 27-year-old owns career marks of 12.1 yards per reception and 8.3 per target, with a 68.2-percent catch rate and touchdowns on 10.8 percent of his targets. Eifert was cleared for football activities in February, likely setting him up for participation in the Bengals' offseason program.
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