Vontaze Burfict took a big step toward making his 2015 debut on Thursday. Mitch Stringer Mitch Stringer-USA Today Sports

Bengals linebacker Vontaze Burfict will be back on the practice field Thursday after receiving medical clearance for his surgically repaired knee.

Burfict has been on the mend since undergoing microfracture surgery in January. He began the season on the physically unable to perform and now has a 21-day window to be activated to the 53-man roster.

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How Burfict comes out of the next few days of practice will determine if he dresses for the Steelers game on Sunday. Whenever Burfict is activated, he'll likely be eased into the linebacker rotation. The linebacker missed 11 games in 2014 with an assortment of injuries and still needs to work his way back into football shape. He hasn't played in a game since last October.

Burfict got the green light to return after a visit with his surgeon, Dr. Neal ElAttrache, in California earlier in the week.