Bengals close to getting Burfict, Ogbuehi on the field

Burfict and Ogbuehi are getting close.

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Although the Cincinnati Bengals are on a bye, head coach Marvin Lewis said the next two days of rehabilitative work will help influence whether outside linebacker Vontaze Burfict and rookie tackle Cedric Ogbuehi will make their 2015 on-field debuts Monday when the team resumes practicing.

Burfict began the season on the physically unable to perform (PUP) list while recovering from knee surgeries. Ogbuehi is on the non-football injury list because his knee injury and subsequent surgery occurred while he was in college.

"We’re impressed with where they are in the process," Lewis told co-host Booger McFarland and me Thursday morning on SiriusXM NFL Radio. "Now we’re just trying to transition them as close as we can to make them ready to eventually come back and handle the rigors of football practice.

"They’re here continuing to work now (during the bye week). These are a couple of critical days for them to not have any setbacks. It’s really been good to watch the smiles come on their faces as they see themselves having turned the corner now and getting ready to play NFL football."

Burfict, the NFL’s leading tackler in 2013 with 171 stops, hurt his knee last October against Baltimore and landed on injured reserve. He underwent microfracture surgery in January.

Burfict told the Cincinnati Enquirer in September that he was targeting a Week 8 game against Pittsburgh on Nov. 1 for his return.

Ogbuehi suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament last December during Texas A&M’s matchup against West Virginia in the Liberty Bowl. Despite the injury, Ogbuehi was taken with the No. 21 overall pick in last April’s NFL draft based upon his pro potential.

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If taken off the NFI list, Ogbuehi would initially serve as a backup behind starting left tackle Andrew Whitworth.

The Bengals have until Dec. 1 to decide whether to activate Burfict and/or Ogbuehi to the 53-man roster or keep them out for the entire season. That deadline is cut to three weeks from the day either begins to practice, which is why Lewis and the team’s medical staff are being prudent as to when Burfict and Ogbuehi take the field.

"We’re not going to rush into anything until we really feel like they’re ready," Lewis said.

Cincinnati enters its bye at 6-0 and atop the AFC North.