Updated: 5:40 p.m.
Bengals defensive tackle
Peko, who has never missed an NFL game in his four seasons, is on the shelf for the first time in 60 games with the sprained medial collateral ligament in his knee. He was on crutches in the locker room Friday morning, a setback from Wednesday and Thursday when he didn't practice. He politely declined comment, fueling speculation, but he said it wasn't a season-ending problem. Lewis wouldn't say if Peko needs some type of arthroscopic surgery or if he'll be out more than a week.
"We'll see," Lewis said.
Peko suffered the injury two weeks ago in Oakland, but practiced last Friday after being limited Wednesday and Thursday before making his 43rd straight start. He left the game in the third quarter.
Scott and center
The Bengals have a host of players marked probable, but only two - running back
BILLICK RETURNS: Lewis had a Super Bowl reunion with his head coach in Baltimore Friday when Fox analyst Brian Billick stopped by practice with play-by-play man and Anderson High School’s Thom Brennaman as the pair prepared for Sunday’s telecast with a host of production meetings.
Lewis was Billick’s defensive coordinator when the Ravens allowed a NFL-low 165 points in the 2000 season on the way to bludgeoning their way to the Super Bowl title. This Lewis defense has already given up 174 points, but it is good enough to lead the league in scoring and win Billick’s admiration.
“I like this team very much and it’s amazing defensively what they are doing with guys that, quite frankly, nobody else wanted,” Billick said. “You have to admire that ‘Scrap Heap,’ or whatever they call themselves.”
Billick went 10-8 against the Bengals and 3-7 against Lewis while he was the Ravens head coach from 1999-2007, but he says this team and those that he faced are nowhere near similar.
“Not even close to what I was used to seeing,” he said. “But a good team. From top to bottom.”
Billick says it’s not the same passing game that featured T.J. Houshmandzadeh and
“It’s not like it was when they had “The Three Amigos,” and that kind of thing,” he said. “But when they have to do it, I think it will be there. I’ve been really surprised that even though they’ve run it the way they have that people aren’t playing more single high (with a safety), fill the box, and stop the run. People obviously still think they can throw. So I don’t blame them when they say, ‘You stay in that and we’ll run the ball down your throat.’ They’re still seeing a lot of passive zones.”
Billick sees the same Lewis, the guy he decided to retain in 1999 when he took the Baltimore job.
“He had head coach written all over him the minute I saw him. He’s still the same guy, “ Billick said. “It’s great to see him now like this. He knows he’s got a good team and he knows he’s got to keep the thumb down on them. I get the sense he likes this team more than any team he’s had. It’s always fun when you’re winning and its fun when you enjoy the personality of your team.”
Billick shook his head as he recalled the last time he coached here, which was one of the more electric nights in the building. It was Sept. 10, 2007 in a nationally televised opener and the Bengals held in the last minute on a goal-line stand to preserve a 27-20 win.
"A lot of good that did me," Billick said. "Terrible call on Heap."
Billick referred to the goal-line touchdown that was called back in that series and would have tied the game if the refs hadn't called pass interference on tight end Todd Heap after he caught it.
LEWIS REMEMBERS WHEN: Those days in Baltimore were good with Billick and Jamal Lewis, the Browns running back who has apparently played his last game in the NFL in ending one of the great Bengal killer careers of all time.
After practice, Marvin Lewis recalled how much Billick helped him with his approach as a coordinator and how he’s he trying to give the same advice to his offensive staff 10 years later. It started with Billick telling him to go home because he was spending “way too much time,” in the office.
“Once in awhile they’re going to get a first down. You need to understand that,” is how Lewis remembers it. “Literally that’s what I’ve been trying to tell our offensive coaches. We know they’ll put us in a bad play. So let’s go. It’s second and 10. Let’s go again, and not worry about the one-time what ifs. That’s what Brian taught me. To be very organized that way. To put together a game plan I knew 98 percent of the time we would be very efficient at. Then my job was to be ahead of the curve on the contingencies.
“That was my job. Don’t belabor the players with that. Or the other coaches. Keep them fresh. Keep them going.”
Billick also taught Lewis a lesson he needed in 2003 when he retained some of Dick LeBeau’s coaches in Cincinnati, particularly on the offensive side. Billick, an offensive mind, decided to retain Lewis in ’99.
“He never once made me feel uncomfortable that I was part of the last regime. Which I thought was an art,” Lewis said. “Hopefully the guys I re-hired here I left them with that feeling. Because I thought that was an art. Such a personable person to be able to do that. That showed what kind of person he was and obviously a very thorough coach.”
Lewis was stunned to hear that Jamal Lewis has been declared out after suffering a concussion against the Bengals last Sunday. Marvin Lewis distinctly remembers a five-minute post-game conversation he thought was pretty fluent with Jamal, a guy for which he has tremendous regard.
Lewis has to be the running back on the all-time Bengals opponent team. While with the Ravens he ripped off 100-yard games in his first seven tries against the Bengals. When Lewis was the coach, he had 186 and 180-yard games. And then when he was with Cleveland he put up the second best game ever against Cincinnati with 216 yards in the Browns’ 51-45 win just six days after they beat Billick, Sept 16., 2007.
Lewis remembered Friday when he told Ravens middle linebacker Ray Lewis that Jamal was something special and after that first practice Ray came up to him and said, “You’re right.”
“Jamal is one great running back,” Marvin Lewis said. “I unfortunately watched him put up 200 yards. He could flat run over people and run by ‘em. That’s the one thing people didn’t understand about Jamal is what great speed he had for such a big man (5-11, 245 pounds). Such a great cut runner.”