Bengals tight end Tyler Eifert doesn't know if he'll get selected for a second Pro Bowl. But he does know if he does he's not going to go after he tore ligaments in his ankle in the fourth quarter of the NFL All-Star game back in January.
"It was a great week, but I don't want to risk going through this again," said Eifert Friday before the Bengals' first practice of training camp. "It's not worth it."
Eifert had surgery back in late May and the three-month prognosis makes him very iffy for the Sept. 11 opener against the Jets. On Friday he wouldn't rule himself out and said his rehab is going well enough that the boot comes off next week. But he wouldn't commit to a timeline.
Yet, he'll commit to declining another Pro Bowl invite.
"It was one of my favorite (weeks) I've ever had," Eifert said. "Just hanging out with the guys. It's cool. You play against the guys all year long. You see these guys have been to the Pro Bowl multiple times who you've watched rowing up and you're there in the pool hanging out.
"It was a lot of fun. A good reward. Then it comes to Sunday, you're on the bus and it's like, 'We have to go play a game? Holy . . ."
Asked if he'd attend the event if they no longer played the game and just had a skills competition, Eifert said, "I'd be all for it. I'm all in."
Other than killing the Pro Bowl, Eifert is upbeat. He pointed to the incision adjacent to the knob of his ankle and said the doctors told him it's a ligament that is rarely torn but that other NFL tight ends have torn it and have made full recoveries.
"It's feeling really good. Everything is moving smoothly," Eifert said. "It's progressing along the timelines as I'm supposed to. It's getting stronger."
Eifert says he's in the weight room putting muscle on his calf and quad, as well as moving the ankle when it is out of the boot for exercises. He expects the rehab to speed up once the boot comes off next week, but he's staying away from any predictions of when he'll return.
There may be one good thing to come out of it. After spending all last offseason in rehab with his fellow Indiana native, Bengals rehab chief Nick Cosgray, coming back from elbow and shoulder injuries, Eifert led all tight ends on the planet with 13 touchdowns.
"We have a report date. I reported a long time ago," Eifert said. "I'm in the pool and on the bike, but you can only do so much. I can do as much as I can without being stupid." ....
Bengals middle linebacker Rey Maualuga, who had been shelved for the voluntary on-field practices in May and June, was cleared to work Friday. Maualuga apparently suffered an injury away from the club since earlier in the week he was put on the non-football injury list. Maualuga was mum about it, saying only "It was stupid," and indicated it wasn't related to football ….
WILL linebacker Vontaze Burfict wasn't cleared Friday after he went on NFI on Thursday. Indications are its not serious and he could be back as soon as a week, but he wouldn't discuss particulars.
But Burfict did say he's coming off the best off-season workouts of his five-year NFL.
"It's the fastest and strongest I've been," Burfict said. "This is the most light I've felt on my week since I've been here."
For the first time he says he bench pressed 375 pounds five times. He also spent three weeks working on his speed and agility with Gold Feet Certified in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
"He was great. He got my feet right doing different cone drills," Burfict said. "I'm actually going to bring him back while I'm suspended (for the first three games). He's going to come out here and train me. I'm not going to stop."