Most Bengals fans aren’t into the idea of drafting a tight end early. But, the fact that Tyler Eifert is returning from back surgery is a serious issue.
As the 2016 season was winding down, the Cincinnati Bengals hurting. Not only was the team destined to finish under .500, but they were without one of their weapons. Tight end Tyler Eifert was again missing from the lineup. Many fans knew about the ankle injury he suffered in the 2015 Pro Bowl. But, there was something else bothering the Bengals’ red zone threat. Eventually, it was discovered that Eifert was having back problems to go along with the shaky wheel.
Once the diagnosis was made, the inevitable took place. Eifert went under the knife to correct the problem. For the final two games of the season, the Bengals were without their star tight end. In all, Eifert would only play in eight games. Just as it seemed things were looking better for the young man, another obstacle arose. Once again, the joy of gliding across the football field was taken from Tyler and the fans who longed to see him.
But will Eifert be ready to make a splash this season? How soon will that be? Per Bengals.com, No. 85 is doing well and looking strong in his rehab. He doesn’t know when he’ll be ready to take on the rigors of regular workout schedules but his availability for May and June camps is a go.
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"“I’m feeling good. I continue to get better. My back feels great. I’ll be ready and healthy and strong and be ready to go by the time it’s go time…I’m close.”"
Will It Be The Same Eifert?
Knowing that Eifert will be back is like being a kid on Christmas Eve. The anticipation of getting those neat toys is enough to keep Mr. Sandman away. But, then there’s the disappointment that can often occur. Instead of getting that cool X-Box, there’s a used Sega Genesis under the wrapping paper. It’s a game system…but not the same.
Back injuries can be serious. Commercials tout the easy process of getting a ‘small incision’ and going to work in a few days or less.But, those are people who won’t be getting slammed by a 250-pound linebacker. Until Eifert is in the heat of battle, his true status won’t be known. But, that’s the nature of the NFL. It’s a wait-and-see kind of uneasiness.
It’s that uneasiness which makes Bengals fans crazy.
In his four years with the Bengals, Eifert has come close to playing an entire season two times. In his rookie season, he played 15 games. Then, in 2015, Tyler appeared in 13 battles. Truly, it’s his health that has kept Eifert from being a household name like Rob Gronkowski or Antonio Gates. When the big tight end is in good health, he can compete with the best.
"“I feel like I’m a good player,” Eifert explained, “and if I can stay healthy and be on the field, I think I can help us win and score points.”"
Bengals Need His Production
If Eifert can get on the field and avoid injuries, he’ll be a welcome addition to a Bengals offense that was anemic. In 2015, the Bengals ranked in the top 10 for points scored. They ended the campaign at No. 7 in the league. Coincidentally (which I don’t believe in), that was Eifert’s first Pro Bowl nod. Last year, the offense slid to the No. 24 position.
Without the presence of Eifert, the Bengals went from 26.2 points per game to a pedestrian 20.3 each week. Tyler averaged a TD per game in 2015. In his half season of play, last year, Eifert was able to grab five touchdowns. Has it sunk in? There’s the difference maker.
Hoping Tyler can stay healthy won’t be the answer for the Bengals. They need to grab some insurance in the draft. In a system that seems to rely on the tight end, that wouldn’t be a bad idea.