Friday, December 27, 2013
Bengals still down TEs Gresham, Eifert
By Coley Harvey
CINCINNATI -- Get familiar with Alex Smith and Orson Charles, Cincinnati Bengals fans. They could be your tight ends later this weekend.
Tight ends Jermaine Gresham and Tyler Eifert missed their third consecutive practice Friday as the rest of the team went through its final workout ahead of Sunday's regular-season finale against Baltimore.
Officially, Eifert was listed as doubtful and Gresham was questionable on the pregame injury report the Bengals provided.
So, will they play?
"We'll see," coach Marvin Lewis said, smiling. He added that it was a "cautious we'll see."
Eifert, Cincinnati's first-round pick in this year's draft, left last Sunday's blowout win over Minnesota with what originally appeared to be an arm injury. Later, it was revealed to be a stinger. Gresham played on all but eight of the Bengals' snaps last week. On Wednesday's injury report, he was listed as having a hamstring injury.
Although Gresham wasn't in uniform and didn't participate in any drills during the open portion of Tuesday's practice -- the Bengals took Wednesday off for the Christmas holiday, but issued an injury report that day anyway based on Tuesday's session -- he was listed as having practiced in a limited capacity on the week's first injury report. By Thursday and Friday, though, he had been downgraded to no practice participation.
While those two missed time Friday, linebacker Vontaze Burfict made a limited return after going through the concussion protocol all week. The second-year linebacker suffered a head injury when he made helmet-to-helmet contact with Vikings quarterback Matt Cassel in last week's game.
"He's got to be smarter with his body," Lewis said. "He just really tried to unload and he got the wrong end of the stick."
Burfict also was listed as questionable.
Along with Eifert and Gresham, cornerback Terence Newman and defensive tackle Devon Still missed another day of practice. Both are out for the game. Still is trying to recover from a back injury picked up after last week's game, and Newman is in the third week of rehabbing a knee injury.
While Newman will be replaced by cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick for a third straight game, the Bengals might have to get creative with how they replace Gresham and Eifert. If neither of them can go, Smith -- who returned earlier this week from his own concussion -- would be the No. 1 tight end in the offense. Charles, who has been playing H-back all season, likely would shift back to tight end as the secondary option. He spent his rookie year at tight end last season and played the position in college at Georgia.
Here's the Bengals' full injury report entering Sunday's game:
CB Terence Newman (knee)
DT Devon Still (back)
TE Tyler Eifert (neck - stinger)
TE Jermaine Gresham (hamstring)
LB Vontaze Burfict (concussion)
LB James Harrison (concussion)
TE Alex Smith (concussion)
OT Andre Smith (ankle)
LB Vincent Rey (ankle)
DE Carlos Dunlap (illness)
CB Dre Kirkpatrick (ankle)