Health starting to tilt in Bengals' favor after off day

Bengals coach Marvin Lewis doesn't have to look as hard for healthy bodies this week. Kareem Elgazzar/The Cincinnati Enquirer via AP

CINCINNATI -- It's a new week, and the Cincinnati Bengals have to be happy about that.

That's because the last one was a tumultuous, topsy-turvy collection of days that had more injury intrigue than the team might wish it had for a complete season. Not only was star tight end Tyler Eifert beginning to make one important transition in his rehab from ankle surgery, but rookie first-round pick William Jackson III was lost for possibly the whole season with a chest injury suffered at the start of the week.

The same day Jackson tore a pectoral muscle, former first-round corner Darqueze Dennard sprained an ankle, relegating him to a possible month-long stay away from the practice field. All three of the preseasons of Dennard's career have been impacted by an injury he's received.

As frustrating as the timing of those injuries may have been, the Bengals also had another tight end, Matt Lengel, its H-back Ryan Hewitt, linebacker Trevor Roach, kicker Zach Hocker, receivers Jake Kumerow and James Wright and safety Derron Smith all miss practices by the end of the week for various injury-related reasons.

Monday, though, all but Hocker had returned to action as health is starting to tilt back in the Bengals' favor.

Wright's absence in Saturday's simulated game at Paul Brown Stadium was just part of the process of easing him back into regular practice reps. Before the start of camp, he hadn't consistently participated in practices or games since November 2014. Late in arguably the best game of his career, the then-rookie suffered a knee injury that ultimately kept him from playing last season.

"They're just still testing my knee out, and getting me back in rhythm," Wright said. "As I go, as the weeks go on, they give me more and a little more and see how much I can do."

Although Wright still is relegated to a brace on his left knee, he still feels "great."

While the Bengals had several of their injured players come back following a day off Sunday, they did lose two for Monday's workout. Cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick didn't practice, and backup quarterback AJ McCarron wasn't feeling well, according to coach Marvin Lewis. McCarron did walk out to the practice fields with teammates, but soon got on a cart and rode it back into the stadium. He left before the Bengals started stretching. Still, he should be back at practice later this week.

Here is another observation from Monday's workout:

  • New Hall of Famer Kevin Greene, a former linebacker with the Packers, 49ers, Rams and Steelers, was in attendance at practice. Just two days after taking part in induction ceremonies in Canton, Ohio, Green was in Cincinnati helping coach the Bengals' pass-rushers. Often during breaks in drills he talked with linemen like Carlos Dunlap, Margus Hunt and Michael Johnson. Although Green spent four seasons with the Steelers, he was wearing a Bengals-T-shirt Monday to support Lewis, the man who served as his position coach in Pittsburgh from 1993-95.

  • Said Lewis about Greene, who will be around a couple of days this week: "He made everybody better. He challenged everybody all the time to give their best. He brings such a passion, such a passion for the game, for teaching football, for coaching football and hopefully it'll continue to rub off on our guys for a couple of days." Lewis said Greene had hoped to join the Bengals a few days last year, but his schedule couldn't allow it.