Bengals WR Hawkins returns to practice

CINCINNATI -- After spending the last two months going through rehab and conditioning exercises following a preseason ankle injury, Cincinnati Bengals receiver Andrew Hawkins finally returned to practice Wednesday afternoon.

It was the first time since Aug. 1 that he went through a workout with the rest of the team. He went through the full session.

"He looked fine," offensive coordinator Jay Gruden said. "He's chomping at the bit to get back, but it's going to take him some time to get back from a stamina, in-shape standpoint. Hopefully when it's time, when the trainers decide and when [coach] Marvin [Lewis] decides, he'll be ready to roll."

Hawkins was placed on the injured reserve/designated to return list five days before the season opener. Per IR rules, he was permitted to return to practice as early as last week, but he won't be cleared to play in a game until next week. With his practice Wednesday, the Bengals have now entered a three-week window during which they can practice Hawkins and have him not count against the 53-man roster.

While this was his first official practice, Hawkins did participate in a limited capacity with other receivers during Sunday's pregame passing drills. Just before the Bengals took on the Detroit Lions, he was out running routes and catching passes along with the rest of the receiving line. It seemed he was focused on sticking his cuts and making sure his ankle was responding to the near-live-speed movements.

The wideout initially suffered his injury on Aug. 1, when he was hurt during a practice drill.

Whenever Hawkins returns, whether next week at Miami or sometime after, he will be joining an already deep Bengals receiving corps. The combination of A.J. Green, Mohamed Sanu, Marvin Jones, tight ends Tyler Eifert and Jermaine Gresham and running back Giovani Bernard comprise a group that could boast five or six 500-yard receivers.

Last season, Hawkins ranked third in receptions and receiving yards, hauling in 51 passes for 533 yards.