CINCINNATI (AP) — Bengals tight end Tyler Eifert will miss the rest of the season with a back injury that has put his career in jeopardy.
The fifth-year veteran missed half of last season with ankle and back injuries. He had surgery on a disc in his back last December. He aggravated it in the second game this season, forcing him to consider another procedure. He’s been inactive for the past three games and was put on injured reserve Thursday.
The Bengals (2-3) are on their bye week. They resume with a game at Pittsburgh (3-2) on Oct. 22.
The Bengals made him the 21st overall choice in the 2013 draft, hoping his pass receiving skills would upgrade their offense. He’s been one of Andy Dalton’s favorite targets, especially near the goal line, but has been severely limited by injuries in three of his five seasons.
Eifert caught 39 passes for 445 yards and two touchdowns in 15 games as a rookie. The following year, he hurt his shoulder during training camp and dislocated an elbow in the opener, ending his season. He returned and had his best season in 2015, caching 52 passes for 615 yards and 13 touchdowns, a franchise record for a tight end.
He made the Pro Bowl that season and tore a ligament in his ankle during the game, requiring surgery. He returned and played in eight games, making 29 catches for 394 yards and five touchdowns, but an injured back disc ended the season and resulted in more surgery.
He played in the first two games this season and had four catches for 46 yards. He aggravated the back in the second game and came off the field. He wasn’t able to practice and was inactive for the past three games.
Eifert’s injury gives Tyler Kroft a chance for a bigger role. Kroft, a third-round pick in 2015, leads Bengals tight ends with 14 catches for 139 yards and two touchdowns after five games.