The team signed H-back Ryan Hewitt to a three-year extension through 2019 worth $7.5 million on Tuesday, NFL Media Insider Ian Rapoport reported, per a source. Terms of the deal were unannounced, but the pact gives Hewitt new money in 2016 — $1.5 million in the form of a signing bonus, Rapoport added — and keeps him from being pulled away as a restricted free agent next offseason.
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His stat lines are puny — just 99 yards receiving last season and no rushing attempts — but the Bengals value Hewitt as a reliable blocker who can be positioned at multiple positions across the formation. Former play-caller Hue Jackson grew to trust the Stanford grad as a player who wound up playing plenty of snaps.
“There are people in the building who think he’s already the NFL’s best fullback after his rookie season,” team-site writer Geoff Hobson reported last summer.
Hewitt made 11 starts as a rookie in 2014 and another 12 last season. He’s bound to play an equally big (but under-the-radar) role come September.
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With both franchises continually battling for playoff spots, their two AFC North contests each season have become heavily contested and venomous. This year’s playoff matchup ended in a wild finish with Cincinnati losing on a last-minute chip shot field goal, aided in part by two personal foul penalties on Bengals defenders.
If you were one of the few still wondering if the rivalry was real, wonder no longer.
During an event in London to promote the NFL’s International Series this season, Bengals defensive tackle Domata Peko jersey was asked to complete the sentence: “the Pittsburgh Steelers are. . . ”
“Pieces of bleep,” Peko replied, while making the beeping sound used to cover expletives, via USA Today (at least he was cordial about his hatred).
“Oh, we hate them,” he said. “For us, each time we play the Steelers, the whole city is like ‘beat these fools’ and whenever we beat them, it is a big party in Cincinnati. It’s a big rivalry for us.”
With both franchises still in prime position to make deep playoff runs, those rivalry games won’t lose their intense tenor. Nor will the players lose their “bleeping” bitterness towards each other.
Tyler Eifert’s Pro Bowl injury continues to linger.
The Cincinnati Bengals tight end left the Pro Bowl in a walking boot, but downplayed any long-term effects, saying at the time, “I’ll be good.”
Months later the ankle still hasn’t responded positively.
NFL Media Insider Ian Rapoport reported Eifert will undergo ankle surgery and likely will begin training camp on the physically unable to perform list.
The Cincinnati Enquirer reported it will be a “minimal procedure” on Eifert’s ankle. The recovery period is estimated at three months, per the Enquirer, which could put Eifert’s availability for the start of the season at risk.
Rapoport later reported that Eifert, who is undergoing the procedure Wednesday, could miss the first few games of the season in a worst-case scenario.
Eifert, 25, has dealt with injury problems throughout his career, including missing 15 games in 2014. The tight end missed three games last year.
The 6-foot-6 tight end proved last season that when healthy he can be a touchdown machine, hauling in 13 scores. The Bengals picked up the fifth-year option for the former first-round pick earlier this offseason.
After losing No. 2 receiver Marvin Jones and No. 3 wideout Mohamed Sanu in free agency, Cincy needs a healthy Eifert when the regular season starts in order to buoy Andy Dalton’s passing attack.