As the Bengals move into mandatory minicamp and things start to heat up, questions still surround Tyler Eifert. He has to remove all doubt.
When the Bengals were in the red zone, during the 2016 season, it was always a gamble as to whether they would score a touchdown. Part of that may have been due to the schemes of new OC Ken Zampese. But, the overwhelming culprit was the tight end position. With Tyler Eifert sidelined for half the year, it was interesting to see the Bengals’ offense struggle. If there are going to be significant strides made for 2017, Eifert has to be in the lineup.
There’s no doubt about it. When Eifert is on the field, he’s a threat to the opposition. Defenses have to account for a TE with the finesse of a wide receiver. But, there’s one aspect of Eifert’s career that has Bengals fans livid. He’s fragile. For all that he’s capable of doing, Eifert is always a solid hit away from some type of injury.
While Eifert continues to recuperate from offseason back surgery, the questions abound. Will he be able to start the season? Is there a chance he won’t be full speed when the Bengals need him? Meanwhile, the focus falls on the players who could take his place. C.J. Uzomah isn’t totally healthy either. He’s been a staple on the sidelines with an undisclosed injury that makes his return iffy at best.
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Who’s the most intriguing bet for stabilizing the position? The Bengals’ draft pick from Rutgers is waking up. The other Tyler is making some noise on the practice field. Tyler Kroft could be a new target for Andy Dalton, if things remain cloudy for Eifert.
"“I think his understanding of how to run certain routes has gotten a lot better,” Dalton told The Cincinnati Enquirer. “I think that comes with experience and time. He’s an athletic guy; he can run, so I think just the understanding of how to run certain routes and where exactly he needs to be has gotten a lot better.”"
Let’s not get ahead of the curve. There’s a long way to go in the process before the home opener against Baltimore. But, it looks like Eifert could be sitting out the festivities once more.
The fact that Eifert has Pro Bowl talent will only go so far. Eventually, the demand will be for him to prove his worth on the field. The potential for doing a bang-up job doesn’t solidify your place in the NFL. Well, if you’re Marvin Lewis you tend to get countless do-overs with no questions asked. Was that wrong?
As Kroft makes a name for himself, Eifert has to overcome the stigma of being the Bengals’ fragile Wonder Boy. Three years in, the doubts are mounting around Eifert while Kroft slowly makes his way up the depth chart.