Upbeat Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis told a national radio audience Thursday that his players on rehab have turned the corner and are getting "ready to return to football."
It sounds like if they continue at this pace during this week's bye that Pro Bowl linebacker backer Vontaze Burfict and first-rounder Cedric Ogbuehi could return to practice as soon as Monday.
But Lewis wouldn't go as far as that during his interview with Alex Marvez on Sirius NFL Radio and called this week's rehab "crucial," noting that the Bengals theoretically have five weeks to make a call and, "We're not going to rush into anything until we really feel like they're ready."
The Bengals basically have until Dec. 1 to make a final decision on Burifct, on the physically unable to perform list (PUP), and Ogbuehi, on the non-football injury list.
Still, barring a setback this week, there seemed to be a sense of optimism that a return for the Nov. 1 game in Pittsburgh was at least still on the table.
"We're impressed with where they are in the process," Lewis said on the program. "It's really been good to watch the smiles come on their faces as they see themselves having turned the corner now and getting ready to play NFL football."
Not only is it unclear if Burfict is ready for Pittsburgh, but also unknown is how much he could play on Nov. 1 after not playing in a game since Oct. 26, 2014 and undergoing micro fracture knee surgery in January. Ogbuehi would be in a reserve role behind left tackle Andrew Whitworth.