CINCINNATI — Tight end Tyler Eifert can’t help but think the Bengals would be scoring more if he were on the field. The way it’s going, that could be in a couple of weeks.
Eifert returned to practice this week, though on a limited basis. He was sidelined for offseason workouts and training camp while recovering from surgery for a torn ligament in his left ankle.
The Bengals (1-1) have struggled close to the goal line, settling for field goals on five of their six trips inside the opponent’s 20-yard line. Last season, Eifert set a club record for a tight end with 13 touchdown catches.
“I like to think they need me back,” Eifert said. “I think they’ve played pretty well these last two weeks, and I just want to get back out there and help.
“It’s easy during the week when you are sitting in meetings and you’re looking at the game plan and you’re not missing much, but once the game starts, all you want to do is be out there. So it’s definitely exciting to take another step in that direction and move closer to getting back out there.”
Eifert partially tore an ankle ligament during the Pro Bowl. He got enough strength and range of motion back to start running pass routes during his workouts last week.
He likely will miss Sunday’s game against Denver (2-0) at Paul Brown Stadium but could return the following Thursday against Miami if there are no problems.
“I’ve been pretty confident for a while now just because everything is kind of going according to plan and I continue to feel better each and every week,” Eifert said. “Sometimes you’ll hit a plateau, where you are getting better and then you kind of just hit that wall. I haven’t experienced that at all. Pretty soon, I’ll be back on the field.”
His backups have gotten mixed results. C.J. Uzomah has five catches for 68 yards. Tyler Kroft has three catches for 35 yards. Neither has scored a touchdown. Uzomah missed practice Wednesday with sore ribs but fully practiced Thursday.
H-back Ryan Hewitt has been used for only 16 plays in the first two games as the Bengals got away from their struggling run game and threw to their receivers more than usual.
“We’ve ended up in a lot of three wide receiver sets and that doesn’t involve him quite as much as some of the other things, which is unfortunate,” offensive coordinator Ken Zampese said. “We’ll find ways to get him on the field more than he has in these first two weeks, that’s for sure.”
Notes: WR A.J. Green missed Wednesday’s practice to be with his wife when she gave birth to their son, Easton Ace. He was back at Paul Brown Stadium on Thursday though he’d hardly slept the last couple of days. “I can’t even describe the feeling, but it was awesome,” Green said. “It was very emotional, just how blessed we are. I don’t even know what to say.” … QB Andy Dalton had a second straight full practice despite a sore hip. … WR James Wright (knee) and OT Eric Winston (back) missed practice.