Bengals tight end Tyler Eifert has been around long enough that he probably doesn't need to play in the preseason. But he's also been around long enough to know that he can't say much about it.
He smiled when asked before Monday's practice if he thinks he needs to play in a game before the Sept. 8 regular-season opener in Seattle.
"I don't know. It's hard to say," Eifert said. "If I say I don't need the snaps the headline will say, 'Eifert doesn't think he needs to play in the preseason.' If I say I need them, the headline will say, 'Eifert thinks he needs to get the rust off.'"
So here's the headline: "Eifert taking it a day at a time."
Because that's pretty much how the coaches are handling it. Eifert turns 29 on Opening Day as he comes off a third straight season he finished on injured reserve. He shows up ready to play a game. He shows up ready to practice. And he waits for them to go thumbs up or down. He's had his camp rest days and he didn't play in the opener. This is a new coaching staff, but there's no formula keeping a guy healthy. Last year in the preseason he played in one game for 20 snaps coming off back surgery and suffered a severe ankle dislocation in just the fourth game of the season.
"They just tell me the day before maybe," Eifert said. "I go into practice preparing to play and let them figure that stuff out. It's being smart. Obviously I've had a lot of injures and the last one was really bad so we're being smart doing everything we can to feel as good we can to get to Seattle."
So far, so good. No nicks and no headlines.