Vontaze Burfict rehabs during Bengals practice for first time

CINCINNATI -- On the first day the Cincinnati Bengals went into full pads, they had another training-camp first: a Vontaze Burfict sighting.

The linebacker made an appearance on the side rehab field Monday, ending his string of four straight practices without being seen. It could be interpreted as a positive sign. This was just one more step toward him having a full recovery from microfracture surgery earlier this offseason.

"He's progressing good," defensive coordinator Paul Guenther said. "He's doing everything the trainers are asking him to do. But just like the defense, he's got to put one day on top of another and on top of another."

Burfict's public rehab included various drills that tested his agility and explosion off the left knee he hurt against the Ravens in Week 8 of last season. Going to his left to try to make a play on a run, he was blocked low before coming up limping. Although he took a couple of plays off, he returned to finish the drive, assisting in a series of stops on a key early-game goal-line stand. He ended up playing the rest of the game before doctors later discovered he needed cartilage cleaned out of the knee.

Among the drills Burfict took part in with other rehabbing players Monday were short sprints, ladder drills and exercises with bungee cords. In addition to tugging head trainer Nick Cosgray along with the bungee on a sprint, Burfict also did jumps with the bungee cord that worked his lower-body power.

Listed on the active/physically unable to perform list, Burfict is able to rejoin the team in practices at any point this camp, so long as he's medically cleared. Despite appearing significantly better than he did the one day in May when he rehabbed at the start of an offseason practice, Burfict still appears to have some days ahead of him before officially returning to the 53-man roster.

Whenever that day comes, the Bengals will welcome him back with open arms.

"When he's out here, it adds a whole element to our defense, that's for sure," Guenther said. "When he's ready to go, he'll be ready."

• Along with Burfict, the Bengals also were without receivers Marvin Jones and Onterio McCalebb and defensive end Wallace Gilberry. Jones and Gilberry were working through hamstring injuries and McCalebb suffered a leg injury at some point Sunday. He walked through the locker room Monday on crutches. Neither Gilberry nor Jones went to the rehab field to get in any conditioning.

• While those players sat out practice, running back Cedric Peerman returned after spending the previous day's workout sidelined with knee soreness.

• Part of Monday's practice was devoted to giving the punt coverage team work. Dre Kirkpatrick and Darqueze Dennard formed a solid tandem of gunners last season. They were a big reason why Kevin Huber's net punting average ranked fourth in the league. With Kirkpatrick appearing to take on a larger role as a likely starting corner, his special teams opportunities will be limited. As a result, the Bengals have to look for his replacement. Brandon Tate, Greg Little, Denarius Moore and Dennard were among the notable players getting a gunner tryout.

• Speaking of Little, the embattled receiver who was signed back by the Bengals last week, has had a more impressive last couple of days. Special visiting assistant and retired former Chargers head coach Al Saunders gave Little a couple of loud "Well done" shouts of praise. He was certainly impressed by how crisply Little came out of routes and caught passes.