A back injury he sustained while recovering from offseason ankle surgery has delayed Cincinnati Bengals tight end Tyler Eifert’s season debut.
After failing to reach the practice field this week, Cincinnati has ruled the talented offensive weapon out for their trip to New England on Sunday. The Patriots host the Bengals at 1 p.m. in Tom Brady’s home debut.
The Patriots had been preparing for Eifert to suit up in Week 6.
“We game plan for everybody on the roster until we know for sure that they’re out, however that information becomes available,” Bill Belichick told reporters Friday morning. “Obviously it’s never final until the roster’s turned in an hour and a half before the game, the inactives are declared.
Eifert will be a big loss for a Bengals offense that struggled to get anything going in the first half of their 28-14 loss to the Dallas Cowboys a week ago.
“Just an excellent player. He’s another big, long, tall — a guy that has a great reach and range from a passing game situation,” Patriots defensive coordinator Matt Patricia told reporters on Monday. “Definitely a go-to player for them in those red area and third-down situations.
“He’s got good quickness, he’s just got enough suddenness to create that separation where now he can use his length to be able to get the ball. A guy like that that is reliable and dependable to come through in those critical situations now has all that more value in that red area. He’s definitely a threat.”