Friday notes: Perfect, healthy weather

Posted Nov 6, 2009

Updated: 3:30 p.m.

With the Bengals hosting their third straight game at Paul Brown Stadium 1 p.m. Sunday in a pivotal AFC North match against the Ravens, the National Weather Service in Wilmington, Ohio is calling for no chance of rain with partly sunny skies and game-time temperatures in the mid 60s with winds out of the south at about 10 miles per hour.

It is the first time in 11 years the Bengals have played three straight at home and the first at PBS. They did it once at Nippert Stadium and 10 times at Riverfront Stadium. They are trying to go 2-1 for the third time. They went 3-0 five times, 1-2 three times and only got swept in 1998 to Baltimore, Jacksonville and Buffalo.

DÉJÀ VU? When he heard that wide receiver Chad Ochocinco sent a box of deodorant to some members of the Ravens defense this week, Bengals safety Chris Crocker could only shake his head Friday morning before practice.

Crocker was a member of the Browns secondary that got a Chad Johnson package full of Pepto Bismol back in 2004 the week Cleveland ended up holding Johnson to three catches and 37 yards in a 34-17 victory.

“All you’ve got to do is check the stats,” said Crocker as he was asked if the gesture pumped up that Browns team. “Yeah, I just hope it doesn’t pump up Baltimore. That’s all I hope. Knowing the kind of defense they are I’m sure there will be motivation.”

SHIP SHAPE: The team that ended last season with 23 players on injured reserve had everyone suited up Friday for what looked to be a full practice. Not only are the Bengals healthy, it is probably the healthiest they’ve ever been for one of Marvin Lewis’ 104 games as Bengals head coach.

“I don’t think I’ve ever written down 61 guys starting practice,” he said after the 53 active players and eight practice-squad players worked out on the PBS field.

Still, rookie right tackle Andre Smith (foot) is questionable after just his sixth practice since signing his contract in late August and he still may be a week or two away. For the third straight day safety Roy Williams (forearm) was limited in practice after missing three of the last four games. For the Ravens, their gifted nose tackle, Haloti Ngata (ankle) didn’t practice for the third straight game and is also questionable.

All other Bengals are probable, including fullback Jeremi Johnson, who went full go Friday after spraining his knee Oct. 25 against the Bears. Also, the club backed off defensive tackle Tank Johnson with his plantar fasciitis and limited his work Friday but made him probable on the injury report.

45 GAME:  If you want to continue the 45-player-Game-day-activation game, one of the guys that figures to be down is newly-signed fullback Fui Vakapuna. But Lewis has been extremely impressed with the week of work he put in and how he responded to the playbook after being gone for two months on the Arizona practice squad.

“Very well, exceptional,” Lewis said. “His retention of the things we did in training camp is good. A lot of the things we did in training camp we didn’t do in the preseason games but we’re doing now. We did spend a lot of time on them in training camp knowing they would be a big part of the things we were going to do down the line. Just having a good grounded understanding of the fundamentals is helpful. And he’s a hard-working guy who understands football. He studies.”

Lewis is also impressed with the 10 pounds Vakapuna has put on, making him 6-0, 270 pounds while still retaining the nimbleness running and catching that convinced the Bengals to take him with a seventh-round pick out of BYU  back in April.

“That’s a big man," Lewis said. “He had to make the transition from a ball-carrier runner in college to a lead-back type of guy. So you gain the skills of him being able to catch and run, now the other part is how to explode and roll your hips as you block and I think he’s done well with that.”



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