Updated: 8:55 p.m.
Going by two ominous signposts, the Bengals could be bracing for some tougher news on wide receiver
When Hawkins showed up to find out his MRI results Friday afternoon, he was not only on crutches but his left foot was in a boot. Then when head coach Marvin Lewis met the media after Friday's practice, he didn't have much to say. He did say he didn't know if Hawkins would be ready for the Sept. 8 opener in Chicago.
"I don't know. He's got a sprained ankle. However the ankle comes along," Lewis said.
It sounds like it's not a clear-cut injury because Lewis said he's not sure of the severity of the sprain. Hawkins got injured in Thursday night's practice stretching out to make a diving catch.
Head coach Marvin Lewis detests depth charts, but he had to release one as the Bengals prepare for Thursday night's preseason opener (8 p.m.-ESPN, Cincinnati's Channel 5) in Atlanta.
Iloka, a fifth-round pick out of Boise State, has been splitting time with veteran Taylor Mays and rookie safety
"It makes me want to practice harder and get better," Iloka said. "For whatever reason they put me in, I don't want to be the guy standing out for doing something bad. I want to be the guy standing out for something good."
Iloka chalks up his emergence to his work with the playbook during the offseason and his tutorials with secondary coaches Mark Carrier and Adam Zimmer.
"I always felt like I had the athletic ability, the speed and the strength," Iloka said. "It was just applying it. Knowing the calls and the schemes and the ins and outs."
INJURY UPDATE: Joining Hawkins on the shelf Friday were fellow receivers A.J. Green and
In response Friday the Bengals signed defensive tackle Vaughn Meatoga, a first-year player that they signed out of Hawaii last year. After the Bengals cut the 6-1, 294-pound Meatoga last preseason, he spent time in the regular season on the Oakland and Seattle practice squads before looking for work this season. With the numbers depleted at receiver and tight end, the Bengals could sign some guys at that spot for the game.
PLAYER OF THE DAY: Quarterback
Johnson, listed as the No. 2 quarterback ahead of
He had a better day than
Johnson came into camp with the edge over Skelton because of his knowledge of the system and his ability to run, and both have held up in the first week.
Johnson had one three-snap sequence that was particularly impressive. He started by escaping out of the pocket and quickly finding his favorite target, wide receiver
RULE BOOK: The Bengals had their tutorial on this year's rule changes and points of emphasis this week and they get one major call on the league's film every team sees.
It showed a clip of quarterback Andy Dalton having the ball slip out of his hands as he went to pass against the Broncos last season for an incompletion. But this year with the refinement of the "Tuck" rule, it would have been a fumble.
Any loss of control after a passer starts to tuck the ball back toward his body is now going to be a fumble. Prior to this season (hello Tom Brady and John Gruden), it was a pass until the quarterback actually tucked the ball all the way back to his body. Now the passing motion ends once he begins the tuck.
The other most prominent change is the 15-yard penalty accessed to running backs if they use the crown of their helmets on defenders three yards beyond the line of scrimmage and beyond the tackle box. When the rule was passed back in March there was general outcry among backs, but Bengals running back
"It's about right," BJGE said Friday. "When they made the rule it sounded like it was just about the backs, but it's for the defense. I don't run like that (with head down), so there's not going to be an adjustment. Guys can get hurt bowing their necks, so I can see it."
Here's a major clarification. In order for it to be called, a back or defender has to line up someone in space and deliver the blow. For instance, if a back is on a sweep beyond the tackle box and at least three yards downfield and he's trying to get extra yardage with someone wrapped around his legs, he won't be called for it if the hit is on an angle.
PLAY OF THE DAY: Fair catch, free kick.
This was special teams coordinator Darrin Simmons's first day to show off his renowned attention to detail. With Lewis handing over the bulk of practice to Simmons's situations in preparation for Thursday, the crowd of about 1,000 saw a little bit of everything. Onside kicks. Hands team. Kick return after a safety. And the obscure fair catch free kick.
"You've got two options after you fair catch a punt. What are they?" Simmons asked. "One, you put the offense on the field. That happens 99 percent of the time. The other is you can take a free kick. And the unique thing about fair catch, free kick is that there can be no time left on the clock."
So Simmons's scenario goes like this: There's five seconds left in the half, you have the other team backed up in their own end zone. They punt it out and you fair-catch it at the 40 with no time left. You then have the chance to kick a field goal and the opposing team can't rush the free kick.
"Now what they'll do is put their kick return team on the field, but they can't rush," Simmons said. "It doesn't happen very much, but if it does … ."
Simmons threw the ball in the air for the fair catch with three seconds left and then brought on kickers
QUOTE OF THE DAY: Simmons on how many of his players knew the fair catch, free kick rule: "Some of them. The veteran guys who have been here have practiced it. I don't even ask (the rookies). I don't want to know."
TOON ENCORE: A replay of the Bengals appearance on the animated NFL RUSH ZONE: Season of the Guardians series appears on NFL Network on Saturday at 8 a.m. with Dalton and Gresham making animated cameos to battle evil villains Wild Card and Drop Kick.
UP NEXT: The Bengals are off Saturday and are working at a new time on Sunday, from 12:50 -1:45 p.m. Gates open at noon. The club then leaves for its two practice sessions and preseason game in Atlanta.