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Bengals seek D-line depth; Atkins injury confirmed; Lewis makes some calls; Tez tackled by fines

Posted Nov 1, 2013

Head coach Marvin Lewis went straight from his Friday news conference to the training room and there were just as many questions.

Updated: 9 p.m.

As is the way of life in Bengaldom nowadays, head coach Marvin Lewis went straight from his Friday news conference to the training room and there were just as many questions.

A grim Lewis exited a few minutes later and confirmed the worst. Two-time Pro Bowl defensive tackle Geno Atkins has a torn ACL in his right knee and is done for his fourth season. If there's any good news it is that indications are it is season-ending and not career-threatening with not a lot of major damage done beyond the ACL. Similar timelines have Atkins with a chance to be ready for the first practice of training camp.

In his news conference Lewis also confirmed what was once considered the deepest and most talented defensive line in the game needs bodies to fill the holes left by season-ending injuries to Atkins and left end Robert Geathers, as well an injured elbow for backup Devon Still that may need another week or two. Wallace Gilberry (groin) played hurt against the Dolphins.

It's believed the Bengals are mulling available veteran defensive linemen, a thought once unheard back in March after they re-signed Geathers and Gilberry and franchised right end Michael Johnson.

During that Thursday night's 22-20 overtime loss in Miami the Bengals couldn't get enough pressure on Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill in the final drive in regulation even though left guard Richie Icognito left the game in the second quarter with a concussion and the benched Tyson Clabo brought out his eight-allowed sacks at right tackle because Jonathan Martin went AWOL. The famed rotation that kept guys fresh for such moments is no more.

"We never replaced Robert. We came in heavy and now we'll be thin," Lewis said. "We'll be looking at some kind of adjustment."

With Still inactive the Bengals finished the game with two healthy tackles, Domata Peko and backup Brandon Thompson.

Lewis indicated that running back Giovani Bernard (ribs), who missed most of the fourth quarter, won't be out long. That sounded like he'd be ready to go to Baltimore on Nov. 10. But Still's status for that one is in doubt. Lewis is hopeful that the elbow that swelled up after getting injured in Detroit will be calmed down for the Ravens.

How exciting is Bernard? His 35-yard Galloping Ghost TD run Thursday was Cincinnati's longest rushing TD since the first game of the Green-Dalton era when Cedric Benson locked up the 2011 opener with a 39-yard scoring run.

NO HOLDS BARRED: Lewis made it known he wasn't happy with some key calls from Thursday. On Friday he stood by his postgame belief that the last play wasn't a safety, although the league has endorsed it rather aggressively.

And he really wasn't pleased with what turned out to be the killing play of the night, the hold on tight end Jermaine Gresham that wiped out wide receiver Marvin Jones's 50-yard catch-and-run touchdown. It looked like Gresham didn't need to block linebacker Phillip Wheeler, but Lewis said he has no problem with what Gresham did.

"By definition of the rule, there’s no restriction. The guy spins out of the block and Jermaine lets him go. That’s the way it should be called," Lewis said. "We’ve got flags flying. We’ve just got to keep working and it’ll turn back in our direction, in our favor. I can’t fault Jermaine for that. He’s got his hands on the guy. He’s shoving the guy. The guy spins. He lets him go. And Marvin runs around it. We just have to keep going. One play doesn’t affect it. There were a lot of plays that affected the football game, as we know."

But there wasn't a bigger one than that because in the same drive quarterback Andy Dalton threw his pick-six and instead of a 10-10 game the Dolphins led, 17-3.

Lewis, a member of the NFL Competition Committee, isn't just pulling this stuff out of the air. But he admitted he hadn't watched it on a TV.

"Hopefully they had a better look than what I’ve seen on it. In my opinion, it isn't (a safety). But my opinion really doesn't matter," Lewis said. "The call was made and they stuck to it. Andy's feet aren't in the end zone, so for the ball to be behind his feet, it would be kind of an awkward position. So that's not the only thing I can see, because his feet aren't in the end zone when he's contacted, nor are they on the white line.”

KICKING IT AROUND: Lewis had one of those decisions in overtime that wasn't going to make anybody happy. Even though Mike Nugent had drilled a 54-yard field goal moments before for the second time in three weeks to give the Bengals a win or late lead, Lewis opted for field position and passed up a 57-yarder going in the same direction.

Even Nugent empathized with Lewis. He acknowledged after the game that the percentages go down when the kick is 50 or longer, although his career long is last year's 55 and he's 3-for-4 from 50 and beyond this year. In his career he's 9-for-19 for 47.3 percent. So, basically, it was a 50-50 shot. Make it, jubilation. Miss it, Miami is 15 yards from a winning field goal.

"That's a really tough one," Nugent said. "I completely understand Coach's point of view there. … That's one of the harder parts about being a head coach."

Nugent's 54-yarder would have been good from 57, which got a little help from the wind, he said. Lewis thought the wind changed throughout the game and he was quick to point to the Buffalo win back on Oct. 13 when he passed on a 55-yarder in OT and Kevin Huber's punt led to Nugent's winning kick.

“It’s the same situation we had in Buffalo, wasn’t it? I don’t think you guys ask that question if we win the game. It’s good though, you always keep it in your pocket just in case," Lewis said. "I don't see many 58-yard field goals going through the uprights very often. Earlier in the game, the wind was a little stronger. Later in the game the wind was different. You could tell by the depths of the kickoffs as the game went on.

"(The wind) doesn’t change. I said the wind was a little stronger at points in the game. It was still the same direction basically. We didn’t kick a 58-yarder in the fourth quarter, did we? It’s a big difference, 58 and 53.”

TEZ TACKLED: Bengals WLL linebacker Vontaze Burfict is leading the NFL in tackles but the league is hitting him in the wallet.

According to Pro Football Talk, Burfict has been fined three times this season for a total of $52,000 with $21,000 coming out of last Sunday's crown-of-the-helmet hit on Jets wide receiver Stephen Hill.

Teammate Adam Jones got a third of what he wanted when NFL.com reported Jets wide receiver David Nelson received a $7,875 fine for the unnecessary roughness call on Jones that same day. Jones called Nelson "a dirty player" after the game and said Nelson should get three fines for his actions.

 

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