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Tyler Eifert Has Passed Concussion Protocol, Giving QB AJ McCarron Another Weapon. But What About McCarron?

The Bengals' big tight end was a sight for sore eyes at Wednesday's walk-thru.

End zone-loving tight end Tyler Eifert rejoined his teammates in pads with the resumption of Bengals practice on Wednesday at Paul Brown Stadium.

Eifert, injured during the Bengals' opening drive Dec. 13 against Pittsburgh on Steelers safety Mike Mitchell's head-to-head hit after an 18-yard catch, was cleared for workouts after missing all or most of the past four games.

The expectation is that he'll be back on the playing field Sunday beginning at 1 p.m. in the regular season finale against visiting Baltimore. Eifert is tied for seventh in the NFL with 12 touchdowns.

“I’m feeling good. I’m cleared and I’m ready to play,” Eifert told the team's official web site following the Wednesday walk-thru. He said he hadn't had a concussion in six years, the last one while playing at Notre Dame.

There was speculation that the Bengals might hold out Eifert until the playoffs as a precaution. But he practiced fully Wednesday and looks to be full-go against the Ravens, potentially giving quarterback AJ McCarron a passing game dimension that he's not had since taking over for injured starter Andy Dalton.

Also expected to make a return is starting safety George Iloka. He practiced Wednesday for the first time, the team said, since re-aggravating a groin injury Dec. 13 against the Steelers, but was limited. He's missed two games.

Indications from the Bengals suggest McCarron will play Sunday, six days after spraining his left wrist against Denver, with Dalton definitely sitting out. McCarron practiced Wednesday. An MRI on Tuesday revealed no major structural damage, and the Bengals said he was day to day.

"I've never been concerned about it," Bengals offensive coordinator Hue Jackson told "I know he'll be fine. And he obviously proved that today practicing, and he did a good job."

Elsewhere on the injury front, it appears that backup tight end Ryan Hewitt (sprained knee) will not be available Sunday. It's unclear if he'll be able to return at all. Hewitt did not practice on Wednesday.

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