Bengals hopeful Tyler Eifert practices next week

CINCINNATI -- Injured Cincinnati Bengals tight end Tyler Eifert was eligible to return to practice Wednesday afternoon. But he didn't.

The Bengals are now hopeful that the player who has been occupying a spot on their short-term injured reserve can make it back to work next Wednesday, days before they take on the Jacksonville Jaguars.

"We were aiming for a week from now," coach Marvin Lewis said Friday, adding that he didn't know exactly when Eifert might return to practice.

It's worth pointing out that the Bengals don't expect him to be ready against the Jaguars, even if he practices next week. Short-term IR rules give teams the option to reinstate injured players for practice purposes starting six weeks after they are placed under the injury-list designation. Two weeks after returning to practice, they are permitted to play in a game.

That's why, since Eifert went on the short-term IR on Sept. 10, the expectation has been that he would be healthy enough to practice this week, and to play in the Week 10 game against the Cleveland Browns. That's two weeks after this Sunday's Week 8 game against the Baltimore Ravens.

At this point, Eifert wouldn't be ready for that one, either.

"Obviously we wouldn't put him in to play with practice on a short week even if he was going to play anyway," Lewis said.

The Bengals' game against the Browns is on a Thursday night. That means Cincinnati will have a little extra time to get Eifert right after he dislocated his right elbow reaching for extra yard in the season-opening win at Baltimore. If he practices next week, he'll be ready in time for the Bengals' Week 11 game at New Orleans. That will be the first of three games on the road in the month of November.

Eifert has just three catches for 37 yards, all coming through one quarter of playing time in the opener. For the better part of the past month, he has been out of a sling and participating in conditioning drills off to the side during Bengals practices and before games.