Hawkins spent the last eight weeks on short-term IR while rehabbing a high ankle sprain he suffered during training camp. By rule, he was not eligible to return to practice until Week 7 and was not available for games until this week.
The timing of the third-year pro's return couldn't be better for the Bengals, who are readying themselves for a matchup with the Miami Dolphins on Thursday Night Football. Wideout Mohamed Sanu was forced out of the second half of last week's drubbing of the Jets with a shoulder injury, meaning Hawkins could be pressed into immediate playing time in the slot.
Hawkins had 51 receptions for 533 yards and four touchdowns last season in Cincinnati.
The Bengals also announced that they have signed DeQuin Evans to the practice squad. Evans just finished an eight-week suspension for violating the league's PED policy.