Tyler Eifert, Vontaze Burfict 'progressing'

CINCINNATI -- A quick update on two of the Cincinnati Bengals' more enigmatic injuries.

Coach Marvin Lewis said after Friday's practice that tight end Tyler Eifert and linebacker Vontaze Burfict are both "progressing" and making strides to return this season.

Burfict appears to have the best chance of playing soon after going through rehab and conditioning work off to the side of Bengals practices this week. If he practices next Wednesday, it seems likely he would return the following Sunday when Cincinnati visits Tampa Bay. If for whatever reason next week doesn't end up working, he should be on schedule to return seven days later when the Bengals host the Steelers.

Burfict underwent arthroscopic knee surgery at the end of last month. It forced him to miss the past three games, and he will be out a fourth Sunday when the Bengals travel to Houston.

As for Eifert, exactly when he will return to the practice fields is a guess. He's been around the team but hasn't worked out since dislocating his right elbow reaching for extra yards at the end of a catch in the season opener at Baltimore. Originally, Eifert was placed on the short-term injured reserve, designated to return nine weeks later. Now 11 weeks have passed, and he still hasn't practiced.

Lewis was asked again Friday if there was a chance Eifert would return this season, and the coach said yes. It was the second time in a week that he acknowledged that Eifert should be back in the fold.

At this rate, though, it could be the within the final three weeks of the regular season before he gets back into the playing rotation. He still has yet to go through the stage of conditioning Burfict was working through this week. And given the amount of time off Eifert has had, he could require more than one week to get back to in enough of playing shape to contribute.