Cincinnati Bengals’ tight end Tyler Eifert and linebacker Vontaze Burfict won’t be on field for start of training camp

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CINCINNATI — Bengals tight end Tyler Eifert and linebacker Vontaze Burfict won’t be on the field when the team opens the first practice of training camp on Thursday afternoon.

Eifert will begin training camp on the physically unable to perform list after sitting out mini-camp with an undisclosed injury. Burfict has been placed on the non-football injury list for undisclosed reasons.

Bengals coach Marvin Lewis said in June that he did not know if Eifert would be ready for training camp, although Eifert commented on his status via his social media account this week.

“Back in Cincinnati for training camp and feeling great! Camp is a grind but I’m looking forward to it!,” Eifert said via his Twitter account earlier in the week.

Both Eifert and Burfict can return to practice as soon as they are medically cleared, but doing so would make them ineligible to be carried over to the PUP or NFI list in the regular season.

The Bengals have not gotten a full season out of Burfict since 2013. That same season Eifert played 15 of 16 games, the most in his five-year career. Eifert has played on only 10 games in the last two seasons due to various injuries and has had back surgery in consecutive offseasons. He recently re-signed a one-year incentive laden deal to return to Cincinnati.

Burfict will begin this season with a four-game suspension for violations of the NFL’s performance enhancing drug policy. He was also suspended to begin the 2016 and 2017 seasons for violations of the NFL’s player safety rules.

Lewis declined to say whether Burfict would participate in a preseason game this year because of his suspension. Burfict did not participate in any games leading up to the 2016 season after a suspension had been handed down early in the offseason.

He did play in two games in the 2017 preseason, but was suspended for three regular season games due to a hit on Chiefs fullback Anthony Sherman in the second game.

Burfict ended his 2017 season early after ending concussion protocol. He began the 2015 season on the PUP list after recovering from microfracture surgery on his knee the previous year.

“Unfortunately we’re probably too experienced at it,” Lewis commented this week about not having Burfict to start the year. “If you look across the league it is amazing how many players are serving four-game suspensions at the beginning of the year. That’s the part that’s shocking when that list comes out. You see it one day and then you another one the next week, another one the next and cumulatively you look at that list right now and it’s amazing. But with him (out), as I’ve said in the past, there has to become an identity with the other guys because Vontaze, you’re not going to be there. So these guys, Preston (Brown) and so forth, they’ve got become the identity of the football team. That’s so important for Preston to go ahead and ascend and to continue to grow. He’s given Vontaze his space but now he’s going to have to go and take over.”

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