Bengals’ Tyler Eifert leaves Pro Bowl in walking boot

After missing all but one quarter of the 2014 season, rebounded with his first nod in 2015.

The tacitly acknowledged Eifert’s growing value as one of NFL’s most effective red-zone weapons, exercising the fifth-year option on his rookie contract.

“We had very high expectations for Tyler when we drafted him, and he has met them all,” coach Marvin Lewis said in a statement released by the team. “He’s a hugely important part of our team as we go forward.”

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Eifert is now under Bengals control through the 2017 season.

Uncoverable in training camp last summer, Eifert went on to emerge as a highly productive second fiddle to No. 1 receiver in Andy Dalton’s surprisingly explosive aerial attack.

Eifert gave smaller safeties fits, using his size, catch radius and leaping ability to high-point 50-50 balls. By midseason, he had already eclipsed Bob Trumpy’s 46-year-old single-season franchise record for touchdowns by a tight end.

With in Detroit and Mohamed Sanu in Atlanta, Eifert should be featured even more heavily in 2016.

Injuries are the biggest issue with the Pro Bowl. In a sport in which injury is more inevitable than avoidable, players attempting to dodge getting hurt leads to a less-than-stellar product.

In Sunday’s 49-27 blowout win by Team Irvin, tight end Tyler Eifert couldn’t avoid the dreaded Pro Bowl injury.

The pass-catcher left early in the fourth quarter, had his left foot and leg iced and walked gingerly from the field, NFL Media’s Steve Wyche reported.

After the game Eifert said initial tests didn’t reveal a break in the foot, but the tight end left the stadium in a boot and plans to undergo further tests in Cincinnati to ensure it was just a bone bruise.

“I don’t really know what happened. I jammed my heel. I’ll be good,” Eifert told the Bengals’ official website.

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Cincinnati Bengals Nike Game JerseyInjury is especially concerning for Eifert, who earned a breakout, 13-touchdown season in 2015 after missing all but one game in 2014. He missed three contests this season due to injury.

Eifert’s recovery from injury was so important to him that one of his Pro Bowl guests — along with his wife — was Bengals rehab chief Nick Cosgray.

Hopefully the touchdown machine will bounce back quickly and be full go when OTAs start this spring.

Make sure to watch Super Bowl Opening Night live Monday on NFL Network at 8 p.m. ET.

The Bengals are no strangers to heartbreak. Even so, January’s Wild Card playoff loss to the Steelers was devastating even by Cincinnati standards.

An ill-timed fumble, and back-to-back personal foul penalties by and Adam Jones set the stage for a late field goal and an 18-16 defeat that had to be seen to be believed.

It was Cincinnati’s fifth-consecutive one-and-done playoff exit, and easily the most painful. Bengals coach Marvin Lewis says the only way to move on from that type of devastation is to hit the reset button.

“April 18 is an important day,” Lewis told NFL Media’s Albert Breer, referring to the start of Cincinnati’s offseason program.

What does Lewis hope to take out of the loss?

“To press on,” he told Breer. “There’s nothing they can do about it now. We’re gonna learn to answer the question and press on. Everyone keeps bringing it up. We have to move on. It’s done and gone. April 18, it gets buried. It gets exorcised. And then we move on and we’ve got put our heads down and do everything we can to earn our way back into the playoffs.”

The Bengals won’t totally move past the events of Jan. 10 until around October. Burfict was suspended three games for his helmet-to-helmet hit on Steelers wide receiver in the loss.

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