CINCINNATI — Tight end Tyler Eifert hasn’t been cleared for practice heading into the Cincinnati Bengals’ opener on Sunday at the New York Jets, the first of several games he’s expected to miss as he recovers from ankle surgery.
Eifert and defensive tackle Brandon Thompson, who is still recovering from a knee injury last season, were the only players working out on a side field during practice on Monday. Eifert had surgery to repair a torn ligament in his left ankle, an injury suffered at the Pro Bowl.
Eifert set a club record for a tight end with 13 touchdown catches last season. The Bengals don’t have another tight end that can catch the ball as dependably.
The rest of the team suited up for practice on Monday. Coach Marvin Lewis said a couple of them might not be ready to play on Sunday. Cornerback Darqueze Dennard and tight end Tyler Kroft were among those who missed significant practice time during camp.
“We’ll push them through practice this week and see how they are,” Lewis said. “Maybe they won’t quite be ready this week, but they should be ready for the (following) week.”
Right tackle Cedric Ogbuehi missed three preseason games with a toe injury. He said Monday that he could have played in more of the preseason, but the team held him out as a precaution. He expects to start against the Jets, replacing Andre Smith.
“It’s real exciting,” Ogbuehi said of his starting debut. “It’s New York, it’s a big deal, so I’m ready for it.”
The Bengals are trying to get third-string quarterback Jeff Driskel up to speed as well.
They waived Keith Wenning and claimed Driskel off waivers from San Francisco on Saturday. Driskel learned about the Bengals’ move from the internet, got a call from the team, and then headed to Cincinnati, arriving late Sunday night.
There was no nameplate above his locker on Monday.
“It’s crazy,” Driskel said of the last 48 hours. “Just in the past day, I was on the West Coast and now I’m out here and getting ready to learn a playbook and see what the Jets are doing defensively. So there’s definitely a lot on my plate this week.”
He had little contact with the Bengals during the scouting combine and didn’t know that they had any interest in him.
“I think things have happened so fast and it’s a matter of worrying about the here and now and handling what I can do, which is get to work on that playbook and figuring out what I’m doing,” he said.
Lewis said the team won’t necessarily keep three quarterbacks on the roster for long. In the meantime, they get to see what Driskel can do.
“We thought he was a young, talented player who has a chance to continue to move upward,” Lewis said. “He can mature and grow and have an opportunity possibly to become an NFL quarterback. It gives us an opportunity to take a look at him.”
For now, he’s the backup to Andy Dalton and AJ McCarron.
Driskel played four seasons at Florida, starting 21 games, and spent last season at Louisiana Tech, where he threw for 4,033 yards with 27 touchdowns and eight interceptions. He went 15 for 31 for 132 yards with no touchdown and two interceptions for the 49ers during the preseason, including one especially bad throw in the final game.
“I was up and down,” Driskel said. “Obviously in my last game I didn’t play so well. I made a bad throw — tried to throw a ball out of bounds and didn’t get it out of bounds, so I turned the ball over. It’s tough to make a team turning the ball over.”