Cincinnati Bengals tight end Tyler Eifert said Friday he was expecting to jump right into practices when he reported to camp earlier this week.
Upon arriving in Cincinnati, he learned the team wanted to take it slower, though.
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Eifert, who played just two games last year because of knee and back injuries, began training camp on the physically unable to perform (PUP) list, and spent the first day of practice on the rehab field Thursday.
“I haven’t been with the team for that little period we had off (between mini-camp and training camp), so I think it gives the team a chance to gauge where I’m at,” Eifert said before practice Friday. “Along with just kind of easing my way into it, I guess, even though Nick (Cosgray) put me through a ridiculous workout yesterday.”
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Eifert knew going on the PUP list would draw criticism about his health, but he believes he could have been ready to practice from Day 1 if permitted.
He hasn’t yet discussed with the team a plan for getting into preseason games.
“I’ll be good to go,” Eifert said. “I’m just starting on the PUP list for now, but I am fine and I will be fine for the season.”
“I will be excited once I get back out there but I’m just anxious to get back out there,” he added. “It’s just been a while. I’m kind of tired of just sitting around watching, but I’ve put myself in a great position right now, in shape and ready to go, so I’ll be fine.”
His workout Thursday was strenuous, lasting for more than an hour and included a lot of full-field sprints as well as some agility drills, stretching and core work.
Eifert said he knew the team wanted to push him, so it wasn’t a surprise.
“It’s as much stretching and core work and extra work that I’ve ever put in, just doing everything I can to protect my back and make sure there aren’t any other issues,” Eifert said. “I feel good, and this is just the route we’re taking but when I am out there I try to push myself so when I do get into practice I’m well-conditioned and where I need to be.”
When asked whether he would categorize the idea behind starting camp on the PUP, Eifert said it’s just “being smart.”
The Bengals haven’t had Eifert for a full season since he was drafted in the first round in 2013. He played 15 of 16 games his rookie year, but had just one appearance in 2014 and played only 10 games combined over the last two seasons because of various injuries and back surgeries in consecutive offseasons.
“Training camp is something that’s part of every season and you have to go through it and grind through and get better,” Eifert said. “Obviously everyone knows all the surgeries I’ve had, it’s just being smart about it. There are no games being played right now that even matter. Obviously they matter and you’re working on your skills and that stuff, but they don’t count for anything so just trying to be smart.”
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