CINCINNATI -- The Cincinnati Bengals finally are healthy.
And with the playoff chase heating up, now was a good time for health to return.
After a string of injuries forced the Bengals to adjust their rotations for the past two months, the roster is starting to resemble the team they had before key losses began to mount.
With guard Kevin Zeitler's return to practice Thursday, Cincinnati was operating at its highest level of participation since the week of Oct. 21, when they had just lost cornerback Leon Hall to a season-ending Achilles injury and defensive tackle Devon Still to a dislocated elbow that took about five weeks to heal.
Since then, linebacker Rey Maualuga recovered from his own long-term injury. The team also lost defensive back Taylor Mays, defensive tackle Geno Atkins and offensive guard Clint Boling to shoulder and ACL injuries.
"It feels good to be back out there," said Zeitler, who was originally added to the parade of injured four weeks ago at Baltimore.
Zeitler pinpointed a moment late in the first quarter of the game as the time when he injured his foot. It came as he was blocking on a third-and-7 pass play with just less than two minutes remaining in the quarter. As quarterback Andy Dalton rolled out of the pocket to his right, the line started protecting in that direction, too. Seconds later, Dalton completed a screen pass to running back Giovani Bernard that was advanced seven yards. With Bernard diving for the first-down marker along the sideline, there was a question initially about whether he had gained a first down.
It was while waiting for officials to review that play that Zeitler remembered feeling something wrong.
"It's a play that on film, you never would have thought anything of it," Zeiter said. "But yeah, the foot popped and I could tell it was going to be bad when we got home."
Zeitler played through the pain and finished the game. It wasn't until the team returned to Cincinnati that he realized the extent of the injury.
"I couldn't walk when I got back to the stadium," Zeitler said.
He's unsure right now whether coaches and trainers will clear him to play this weekend, but he'll work on being ready.
"I'm just going to keep working in practice and they'll make the best decision for the team," Zeitler said. "Whether that's me getting in there, or that's Mike [Pollak], who has played amazing. Whatever's best for the team, that's what's going to happen. I'm just going to keep working every day, and eventually this thing will heal and I'll be good, 100 percent."
Zeitler has been replaced the last two games by Pollak, who started this year for the first time since 2011. With Boling's injury at San Diego last weekend, the Bengals' depth has taken a bit of a hit. To assist with that depth, particularly if Zeitler can't play Sunday, the Bengals on Tuesday re-signed lineman Dennis Roland.
OG Clint Boling (knee)
Limited Practice Participation
WR Andrew Hawkins (hamstring)
OL Andrew Whitworth (calf)
OG Kevin Zeitler (foot)
Full Practice Participation
LB Vontaze Burfict (ankle)
TE Tyler Eifert (knee)
WR A.J. Green (groin)
CB Adam Jones (hip)