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Vontaze Burfict underwent microfracture surgery, per report

Cincinnati Bengals linebacker Vontaze Burfict recently required microfracture surgery to repair cartilage in his knee.

Mitch Stringer-USA TODAY Sports

Damaged cartilage in the knee of Cincinnati Bengals linebacker Vontaze Burfict forced the 2013 Pro Bowler to undergo microfracture surgeryaccording to Ian Rapoport of NFL Network.

The surgery, which is considered one of the most difficult for athletes to return from, involves the drilling of tiny fractures in bone that causes the development of new cartilage. After an arthroscopic surgery in October didn't fully repair a knee injury for Burfict, he went on injured reserve in December and waited until January to have a second procedure done.

With such a serious surgery occurring in January, Burfict's ability to return for the beginning of the 2015 season is in doubt, although the doctor who performed the surgery believes the linebacker could be back in form sooner than expected:

"I don't see any reason, if this thing heals like we want and we think it will, why he won't be back like he was," said Dr. Neal ElAttrache, a member of the Kerlan-Jobe Orthopaedic Clinic Board of Directors, over the phone. "Microfracture has a bad connotation, but there are plenty of guys who have come back and been able to play like before. But it's not really news when it works out."

Burfict, who signed a four-year contract in August worth $19 million, started just five games for the Bengals and didn't have the same impact that he did during his Pro Bowl season in 2013. In three seasons since making the team as an undrafted free agent in 2012, Burfict has tallied 327 total tackles and four sacks.