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Cincinnati Bengals LB Vontaze Burfict ruled out with hip injury


CINCINNATI — Bengals linebacker Vontaze Burfict has been ruled out of Sunday’s game against the Buccaneers with a hip injury.

Burfict appeared to injure his hip late in the third quarter of the Bengals’ loss to the Chiefs last Sunday and immediately went to the locker room. He did not return and was quickly ruled out.

Burfict has played in only three games this season. He missed the first four games of the season while surviving a suspension for a violation of the NFL’s performance enhancing drug policy. He has not played a full season since 2013 due to injuries and suspensions.

It hasn’t been smooth sailing for Burfict since his return. He was fined $112,000 by the NFL for two plays against the Steelers that the league defined as unnecessary roughness. He also missed several tackles in the blowout loss to the Chiefs.

“He hasn’t played as well as he has in the past,” said Bengals coach Marvin Lewis on Wednesday.

Lewis declined any followup questions on Burfict.

“I don’t want to talk about Vontaze. It’s not relevant,” he said.

The Bengals will also be without linebacker Nick Vigil, running back Giovani Bernard, wide receiver John Ross, cornerback Darqueze Dennard and tight end Tyler Kroft this weekend. Burfict will likely be replaced by Hardy Nickerson or Vincent Rey.



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Vontaze Burfict of Cincinnati Bengals fined $112,000 for hits in Pittsburgh Steelers game


Bengals linebacker Vontaze Burfict was fined $112,000 for multiple plays that constituted unnecessary roughness in Cincinnati’s Week 6 game against the Pittsburgh Steelers.

The plays that drew the fines included ones involving wide receiver Antonio Brown and running back James Conner during the third quarter.

Brown caught a pass over the middle and was tackled by two Bengals defenders when Burfict flew in with his right elbow, connecting with Brown’s upper body and head area. Brown was down on the turf for a few seconds and was evaluated by the team on the sideline before re-entering the game. After the game, Brown called the play a “nasty hit.”

Burfict has been fined more than $415,000 during his NFL career. The latest sanction is the 11th time he has been fined in his seven NFL seasons.

He also has been suspended twice for a total of six games, including a three-game ban for a hit on Brown during a 2016 playoff game.

Steelers players consistently praise Burfict’s ability as a player but say they wish he would tone down the viciousness.

“He’s hurting his team,” Steelers right tackle Marcus Gilbert said earlier this week. “It could have been a costly penalty right there. Who knows? He should be suspended for that hit. We’ll see. But he’s too good of a football player to be missing games like that.”

Around the NFL, Seattle Seahawks safety Bradley McDougald was fined $26,739 for unnecessary roughness on a hit on Oakland Raiders wide receiver Amari Cooper.



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Steelers players rally behind Antonio Brown, condemn Vontaze Burfict


PITTSBURGH — Multiple Pittsburgh Steelers players spoke out against Cincinnati Bengals linebacker Vontaze Burfict for his elbow to Antonio Brown‘s head in the third quarter of Pittsburgh’s 28-21 win on Sunday.

Right tackle Marcus Gilbert said Burfict should be suspended for the play.

“That’s pathetic. The NFL has to do something about that,” Gilbert said. “A guy like that, going out there intentionally trying to hurt people, there’s no need for that kind of playing in this league. It’s sad. One of these days he’ll grow up.”

According to a report by ESPN’s Adam Schefter, the NFL is reviewing three plays that Burfict was involved during the game to determine the appropriate level of discipline. Those three plays are his elbow on Brown, and two plays in the second half in which he led with his helmet.

Brown caught a pass over the middle and was tackled by two Bengals defenders when Burfict flew in with his right elbow, connecting with Brown’s upper body/head area. Brown was down on the turf for a few seconds and got evaluated by the team on the sideline before re-entering the game.

Brown finished with a 31-yard, game-winning touchdown with 10 seconds left.

After the game, Brown called the play a “nasty hit.”

“Thank God I was able to come back in the game to finish the game,” he said.

Burfict has a long history of egregious hits, fines and suspensions since entering the league in 2012. He served a four-game suspension to start the 2018 season for violation of the league’s substance abuse policy. Burfict hasn’t played more than 11 games in a year since 2013.

During the 2015 season, Burfict had a hand in injuring the Steelers’ three best offensive players — Brown, Le’Veon Bell and Ben Roethlisberger — with questionable play.

The league has emphasized protecting quarterbacks with revised roughing the passer calls, but guard David DeCastro would like to see receivers protected as well.

“It’s tough to see AB get hit like that,” he said. “With all the emphasis on quarterback safety, what about a guy like AB: A superstar he is in this league, how much money he’s getting paid, how much he means to this team? A cheap shot like that, I thought was unnecessary. … If they want to talk about making this game safer, maybe they will do something. Or maybe they will put in a new rule that no one is going to call when it matters. Maybe it’s a PR stunt.”

Steelers players consistently praise Burfict’s ability as a player, but wish he would tone down the viciousness.

“He’s hurting his team,” Gilbert said. “It could have been a costly penalty right there. Who knows? He should be suspended for that hit. We’ll see. But he’s too good of a football player to be missing games like that.”



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Vontaze Burfict of Cincinnati Bengals cleared to practice


CINCINNATI — The Cincinnati Bengals cleared linebacker Vontaze Burfict to return to practice on Monday, paving the way for him to get back on the field before his four-game suspension begins at the start of the regular season.

The Bengals now have two of their best players available again after tight end Tyler Eifert was activated off the physically unable to perform list last week.

Burfict began training camp on the non-football injury list and has spent the start of camp doing conditioning work on an adjacent field. The Bengals’ official site described Burfict’s absence as related to hamstring tightness.

Burfict last played on Dec. 24 after a concussion kept him out for two games earlier that month. He exited that game early with a shoulder injury and did not play the rest of the season. He played in only 10 games last season due to injuries and a three-game suspension that he received due to a preseason hit on Chiefs fullback Anthony Sherman.

Burfict received a four-game suspension this year for violation of the NFL’s performance-enhancing drug policy after failing a drug test on Dec. 27. He is eligible to play in the preseason, however Bengals coach Marvin Lewis didn’t say whether he planned to play Burfict in a preseason game.

Burfict did not play in the 2016 preseason when facing a three-game suspension for violations of NFL player safety rules, but he did play in two preseason games last year before receiving a five-game suspension for the Sherman hit that was later reduced to three on appeal.



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Cincinnati Bengals’ tight end Tyler Eifert and linebacker Vontaze Burfict won’t be on field for start of training camp


CINCINNATI — Bengals tight end Tyler Eifert and linebacker Vontaze Burfict won’t be on the field when the team opens the first practice of training camp on Thursday afternoon.

Eifert will begin training camp on the physically unable to perform list after sitting out mini-camp with an undisclosed injury. Burfict has been placed on the non-football injury list for undisclosed reasons.

Bengals coach Marvin Lewis said in June that he did not know if Eifert would be ready for training camp, although Eifert sounded optimistic in a tweet this week.

“Back in Cincinnati for training camp and feeling great! Camp is a grind but I’m looking forward to it!,” Eifert said via his Twitter account earlier in the week.

Both Eifert and Burfict can return to practice as soon as they are medically cleared, but doing so would make them ineligible to be carried over to the PUP or NFI list in the regular season.

The Bengals have not gotten a full season out of Burfict since 2013. That same season Eifert played 15 of 16 games, the most in his five-year career. Eifert has played on only 10 games in the last two seasons due to various injuries and has had back surgery in consecutive offseasons. He recently re-signed a one-year incentive laden deal to return to Cincinnati.

Burfict will begin this season with a four-game suspension for violations of the NFL’s performance enhancing drug policy. He was also suspended to begin the 2016 and 2017 seasons for violations of the NFL’s player safety rules.

Lewis declined to say whether Burfict would participate in a preseason game this year because of his suspension. Burfict did not participate in any games leading up to the 2016 season after a suspension had been handed down early in the offseason.

He did play in two games in the 2017 preseason, but was suspended for three regular season games due to a hit on Chiefs fullback Anthony Sherman in the second game.

Burfict ended his 2017 season early after ending concussion protocol. He began the 2015 season on the PUP list after recovering from microfracture surgery on his knee the previous year.

“Unfortunately we’re probably too experienced at it,” Lewis commented this week about not having Burfict to start the year. “If you look across the league it is amazing how many players are serving four-game suspensions at the beginning of the year. That’s the part that’s shocking when that list comes out. You see it one day and then you another one the next week, another one the next and cumulatively you look at that list right now and it’s amazing. But with him (out), as I’ve said in the past, there has to become an identity with the other guys because Vontaze, you’re not going to be there. So these guys, Preston (Brown) and so forth, they’ve got become the identity of the football team. That’s so important for Preston to go ahead and ascend and to continue to grow. He’s given Vontaze his space but now he’s going to have to go and take over.”



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Vontaze Burfict of Cincinnati Bengals officially suspended for first four games of 2018 for PED violation


The NFL on Thursday suspended Cincinnati Bengals linebacker Vontaze Burfict four games for violating the league’s policy on performance-enhancing substances.

ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported in March that Burfict was facing the suspension for a failed test on Dec. 27 of last year.

Sources told Schefter that Burfict’s appeal was to be centered around the fact that he was on prescribed medication for the concussion that he suffered on a hit from Steelers wide receiver Ju-Ju Smith Schuster on Dec. 4 and that he suffered a Grade 3 shoulder AC sprain during the Detroit Lions game on Dec. 24 and was on prescribed medications for this injury as well.

Burfict has been suspended in the past, but for on-field transgressions. He was suspended for the first three games of the 2017 season for an illegal hit on Kansas City Chiefs fullback Anthony Sherman in the preseason. He initially was suspended five games but had the penalty reduced on appeal.

Burfict was also suspended the first three games of the 2016 season for numerous violations of player safety rules, including an illegal hit on Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown during the 2015 playoffs.

Separate from those suspensions, Burfict has been fined $303,637 for 11 on-field incidents in his NFL career, according to ESPN Stats & Information.



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Cincinnati Bengals linebacker Vontaze Burfict is facing a four-game suspension for violating the NFL’s performance-enhancing drug policy according to league sources


Cincinnati Bengals‘ LB Vontaze Burfict is facing a four-game suspension for violating the NFL’s performance-enhancing drug policy, pending appeal, per league sources.

Burfict’s appeal will center around the fact that he was on prescribed medication for the concussion he suffered on a hit from Steelers’ wide receiver Ju-Ju Smith Schuster on Dec. 4 and that he suffered a Grade 3 shoulder AC sprain during the Detroit Lions game on Dec. 24 and was on prescribed medications for this injury as well, per another source.

The disputed test occurred Dec. 27, when Burfict already had been ruled out for the season, and he is expected to argue that he could not be using any drug to gain an advantage when he wasn’t even playing.

No appeal date has been set yet, but Burfict soon will be fighting to be able to play the first four games of next season.

Burfict has been suspended in the past, but for on-field transgressions. He was suspended for the first three games of the 2017 season for an illegal hit on Kansas City Chiefs fullback Anthony Sherman in the preseason. He initially was suspended five games but had the penalty reduced on appeal.

Burfict was also suspended the first three games of the 2016 season for numerous violations of player safety rules, including an illegal hit on Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown during the 2015 playoffs.

Separate from those suspensions, Burfict has been fined $303,637 for 11 on-field incidents in his NFL career, according to ESPN Stats & Information.



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