While the Pittsburgh Steelers were well aware of the injury situation surrounding their new tight end, with Ladarius Green undergoing ankle surgery early in the offseason well before he signed a free agent contract, the Cincinnati Bengals were clearly not as familiar with the nature or extent of the injury to their own tight end.
Fourth-year tight end and Pro Bowler Tyler Eifert underwent surgery just yesterday on his own ankle, due to an injury stemming back from the Pro Bowl, a reality that has its own set of implications, since the Bengals had a very valued commodity suffer an injury in a glorified exhibition game.
But the Pro Bowl took place on February 2. Yesterday was May 27. Why did it take nearly three months in order for Eifert to have surgery on his ankle? Clearly, the answer is the same as the one pertaining to the shoulder of Steelers cornerback Senquez Golson.
Golson suffered a shoulder injury toward the end of spring practices, a fact of which he informed the team and their medical and training staff. The hope and belief at the time was that it was an injury that would improve with rest and would not require surgery. With a month off before training camp, the team elected to wait.
Golson’s shoulder injury did not improve, and that ultimately resulted in the then-rookie undergoing a surgical procedure to repair it. Golson left the team’s most recent OTA session in order to undergo an MRI after seemingly being given a full-go to practice, although neither the purpose of the MRI nor its results are currently known.
The Bengals staff believed at the time of the injury that Eifert’s ankle would not require surgical intervention, clearly. This is a frequent opinion, and, to be fair, while the instances in which the hunch turn out to be wrong—see Cortez Allen and Mike Adams—more often than not, the non-surgical option proves to be effective. We just don’t hear about things when they work without a hitch.
The Bengals are dealing with that hitch now, and it is one that could potentially linger into the start of the regular season, with the very real possibility that Eifert might not be ready to play for the first couple of weeks of the season, including one that will take place against the Steelers.
Geoff Hobson notes on the Bengals’ website that all reports had seemed to be positive regarding his ankle up until it was announced that he would have to have surgery. Eifert said that his ankle was fine at the start of the first phase of offseason workouts a bit further back than a month ago on April 21.
This was not a situation of negligence on the Bengals’ part, but it is a rather unfortunate one. They ‘gambled’, so to speak, hoping that surgery would not be necessary, and if there is ever a non-surgical option, you tend to take it. Injuries can have a bit of a wildcard element to them, as both the Bengals and Steelers are seeing this offseason.