Blue and Gold Illustrated

Sept. 10, 2018

Blue & Gold Illustrated: America's Foremost Authority on Notre Dame Football

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Page 50 of 55 SEPT. 10, 2018 51 IRISH IN THE PROS BY COREY BODDEN O n Aug. 26, Cincinnati Bengals tight end Tyler Eifert saw his first NFL action in almost 12 months after missing all but two games in 2017 with a back injury. The former Irish star underwent back surgery for the second straight year and has played in just 10 games since the 2015 campaign, when he caught 52 passes for 615 yards and 13 touchdowns. An ankle injury forced Eifert to miss the first six weeks of the 2016 season before lingering back issues sidelined him for the final three weeks and eventually the last 14 games of 2017. In mid-March, Eifert signed a one- year contract that is heavily based on incentives to stick with the Bengals following the expiration of his five-year rookie deal. "I felt like I owed that to the organization, to Mr. Brown, to Coach [Marvin] Lewis and to the fans, es- pecially the way the first five years of my career have gone, up and down," Eifert told The Cincinnati Enquirer. "I felt like [I had to] to keep them in the loop. I knew that's where I wanted to be, so I'm happy about that." To maximize his deal, the first step for Eifert is to remain healthy. The orga- nization took it slow with him during training camp while he worked his way back into game shape, avoiding overworking him and limiting his play to help his back hold up throughout the season. Eifert returned to the practice field in late July and did not see his first preseason action until the third contest, Aug. 26, playing a limited number of snaps against the Buf- falo Bills. He caught one pass for 11 yards on three targets against the Bills. Even if it was a small sample size, getting back in a live game was a pos- itive sight for Eifert and the Bengals. "I got some action and got banged around a lot," Eifert told "I feel good. I feel awesome. [The of- fense] looks good. We just have to keep it rolling into the regular season. We're on the right track." Every time he gets hit, Eifert doesn't even consider the status of his recovering back. "Honestly, it doesn't cross my mind when I'm out there playing," he told "I don't go to the ground thinking, 'Oh, I hope my back's OK whenever I hit the ground,' or something. "I'm feeling good, so it's not even a thought of mine. We're just going to try and keep it that way." It is likely Eifert's snap counts will be limited for at least the first sev- eral weeks of the season. However, he can still help take the Cincinnati of- fense to another level for quarterback Andy Dal- ton with wide receivers A.J. Green and John Ross, who is also healthy after also missing most of 2017, on the perimeter. "They all know we are better with Tyler when we have him," head coach Marvin Lewis told reporters in mid-August. " … Tyler has done well. He has continued to stay the course. He makes a difference every time he steps out there. "Offensively, the com- fort level that Andy has and the things he can cre- ate on the field as a mis- match are very evident." With a one-year deal signed, Eifert is playing for his future with the Bengals and in football. Another injury-filled sea- son could limit his oppor- tunities moving forward. Staying healthy long term is the goal. So far so good in the early stages. ✦ Tight End Tyler Eifert Aims To Stay Healthy In 2018 Eifert notched 52 receptions for 615 yards and 13 scores for the Bengals in 2015, but played in only 10 games the past two seasons due to injuries. PHOTO COURTESY CINCINNATI BENGALS IRISH PLAYERS ON NFL ROSTERS As of Aug. 30 Name (Years At Notre Dame) NFL Season Pos. Current Team Josh Adams (2015-17) 1st RB Philadelphia Eagles Sheldon Day (2012-15) 3rd DL San Francisco 49ers Tyler Eifert (2009-12) 6th TE Cincinnati Bengals Matthias Farley (2011-15) 3rd DB Indianapolis Colts Will Fuller (2013-15) 3rd WR Houston Texans J.J. Jansen (2004-07) 11th LS Carolina Panthers Jarron Jones (2012-16) 2nd OL Tampa Bay Buccaneers TJ Jones (2010-13) 4th WR Detroit Lions DeShone Kizer (2014-16) 2nd QB Green Bay Packers Ben Koyack (2011-14) 4th TE Jacksonville Jaguars Kapron Lewis-Moore (2008-12)* 6th DE Jacksonville Jaguars Cole Luke (2013-16) 2nd CB Carolina Panthers Nick Martin (2011-15) 3rd OL Houston Texans Zack Martin (2009-13) 5th OL Dallas Cowboys Mike McGlinchey (2013-17) 1st OL San Francisco 49ers Greer Martini (2014-17) 1st LB Green Bay Packers Quenton Nelson (2014-17) 1st OL Indianapolis Colts Romeo Okwara (2012-15) 3rd DE New York Giants James Onwualu (2013-16) 2nd LB Los Angeles Chargers C.J. Prosise (2012-15) 3rd RB Seattle Seahawks Theo Riddick (2009-12) 6th RB Detroit Lions Isaac Rochell (2013-16) 2nd DT Los Angeles Chargers Kyle Rudolph (2008-10) 8th TE Minnesota Vikings KeiVarae Russell (2012-15) 4th CB Cincinnati Bengals Harrison Smith (2007-11) 7th S Minnesota Vikings Jaylon Smith (2013-15) 3rd LB Dallas Cowboys Durham Smythe (2013-17) 1st TE Miami Dolphins Equanimeous St. Brown (2015-17) 1st WR Green Bay Packers Ronnie Stanley (2012-15) 3rd OT Baltimore Ravens John Sullivan (2003-07) 11th C Los Angeles Rams Golden Tate (2007-09) 9th WR Detroit Lions Manti Te'o (2009-12) 6th LB New Orleans Saints Stephon Tuitt (2011-13) 5th DE Pittsburgh Steelers Sam Young (2006-09) 9th OT Miami Dolphins * Injured reserve

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