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Game on TV; SI on why Bengals 1; Bleak for Burfict; Green limited; Nugent reflects; Double coverage

Posted Sep 18, 2014

Throw in the block in Baltimore and Nugent already has four misses at 6-for-10, matching his 18-for-22 last year and 19-for-23 in 2012. But he had never missed three field goals before in his 109 previous games and he says it won’t play on his mind.

Ticket sales for Sunday’s 1 p.m. game against Tennessee at Paul Brown Stadium have reached the threshold to clear the game for live television coverage in the Bengals home market, Channel 12 in Cincinnati, Channel 7 in Dayton, Ohio, and Channel 27 in Lexington, Ky.

While the Bengals have accepted an NFL option to have blackouts lifted this season with 85 percent of non-premium tickets sold, good seats on all three levels of PBS remain. They can be purchased by calling the Bengals Ticket Hotline during business hours at 513-621-8383 or toll free at 866-621-8383. Tickets also can be purchased at any time through Bengals.com.

NO. 1: For all those in Bengaldom bitter at the national sports punditry’s lukewarm reaction to the 2-0 start, SI.com has come to the rescue and made the Bengals No. 1 in  its power ranking for what the magazine says is the first time in history.

The Bengals get the next two teams in the rankings at PBS later in the season. The No. 2 Broncos are here in a Monday night game on Dec. 22 and the No. 3 Panthers are in Oct. 12. Seattle and Philadelphia round out the top five.

SI’s Chris Burke, the most popular man in Cincinnati heading into Thursday night, admittedly went where men like Peter King, Don Banks, and Dr. Z never ventured.

“If they lose Sunday,” said Burke knowingly. “I’ll get the blame as the jinx.”

But Burke’s reasoning is pretty sound.

“None of the other teams have blown me away. Denver hasn’t looked that great in the first two games and New Orleans and Green Bay and New England all have at least a loss,” Burke said. “Cincinnati has a top five defense if they keep playing like this and the way the play up front and in the secondary it reminds you of how Seattle beat Denver (in the Super Bowl.) And the way they’ve run the ball is impressive. To me they look like a team that’s built for December and January.”

BURFICT OUTLOOK BLEAK:It is looking more and more like Pro Bowl WILL linebacker Vontaze Burfict is going to miss the first Sunday of his 34-game career against the Titans.

For the second straight day at Thursday’s practice there was no sign of Burfict after he left each of the first two games of the season with a concussion. That would indicate he’s still in the early stages of the NFL protocol, all but taking him out of the game.

As advertised, wide receiver A.J. Green (right toe) suited up Thursday and after sitting out Wednesday and ran some routes and caught some balls early in practice. The club categorized him as "limited," and no one seems to know how that is going to go until Green reports how it feels Friday.

Defensive end Carlos Dunlap (knee) surfaced on Thursday's injury report for the first time this week as a "limited,' designation.

Meanwhile, Sunday’s inactive list never looked cleared on a Thursday. That’s how beat up the Bengals are. Starting right guard Kevin Zeitler (calf) and run stuffer supreme Brandon Thompson (knee) didn’t work again and while running back Rex Burkhead (knee) and wide receiver Marvin Jones (foot) look to be running close to full speed, they didn’t practice as they aim for Oct. 5 in New England, their next game that comes after the Sept. 28 bye. Linebacker Sean Porter (hamstring) has yet to practice since the Aug. 28 injury in the preseason finale.

Zeitler’s replacement, Mike Pollak (knee) and left tackle Andrew Whitworth (knee) worked after sitting out Wednesday. So left guard Clint Boling (knee) took his regular Thursday off after working Wednesday.

NUGENT REFLECTS: Bengals kicker Mike Nugent missed four field goals in each of the last two seasons so he admittedly was stunned when he missed three in the first half of Sunday’s 24-10 victory over the Falcons. Even if one from 55 yards at the half-time gun would have tied the franchise record he shares with Chris Bahr.

“I kind of shocked myself and I did a bad job of overcompensating,” Nugent said before Thursday’s practice. “That’s the first day of kicking. Don’t overcompensate.”

Nugent, a 10th-year player who has spent half his career in Cincinnati, came into the season as the second most accurate kicker in Bengals history  at 83 percent and trailing only Shayne Graham’s 86.8 percent. He made his first one Sunday, a 31-yarder, and then pushed a 38-yader right and then hooked a 49-yarder left before he came up short on the 55-yarder. And this after Nugent said he had the best warmup of his career.

“I really did a bad job not learning from the first miss,” Nugent said. “It was a great ball.  I couldn’t believe I missed it. Usually the process is I ask myself, ‘What did I do wrong and how can I fix it?’ Usually when I hit a nice straight, smooth ball and it misses, it’s just in my alignment.  I wasn’t where I was supposed to be.

“Instead of just saying I had a great warmup and hit it well and that I just pushed it, I pulled the next two and let the push get to me.”

Throw in the block in Baltimore and Nugent already has four misses at 6-for-10, matching his 18-for-22 last year and 19-for-23 in 2012. But he had never missed three field goals before in his 109 previous games and he says it won’t play on his mind.

“Not at all. I hit the first one Sunday,” Nugent said. “You just have to watch the film, sit in the room with the guys, and learn what you did wrong. You just have to fix it for this week.”

DOUBLE COVERAGE: The Bengals media contingent had an international flair Thursday with a TV crew from NFL Japan doing a Devon Still story and a sports writer from an Estonian newspaper covering Margus Hunt.

Viljar (pronounced Vee-yar) Voog works for the evening paper Ohtuleht in the Estonia capital of Tallinn and no matter happens this trip is going to be a success because the NFL is popular enough that the folks back home are interested in how Hunt is progressing.

But all Voog needs is one snap on Sunday to get a blockbuster. Titans left tackle Michael Roos, who has quietly started 145 of a possible 146 games since he was a rookie in 2005, is also an Estonian native. Roos, 31, left the country when he was 10 and settled in Vancouver, Wash., before playing at Eastern Washington.

Voog would love to get the 6-8, 290-pound Hunt, the defensive lineman who started playing football while at SMU, playing against the 6-7, 313-pound Roos. It probably won’t happen since Hunt staying at mainly left end has been a part of his emergence.

 But…

“Just a snap or two. That would be enough of a story,’ Voog said.

Given that Hunt, 27, is nearly five years younger than Roos and he became a national figure when he won Estonia’s first two gold medals in the World Junior Track and Field Championships, he’s got the bigger following. In fact, Voog says Hunt is the reason he was able to make the move to sports writer from cameraman because after studying in England for three years he became familiar with the NFL and the hunger for Hunt news fit right in.

“We were going to come here to do a story at some point this year because the interest is there,” Voog said. “But this seemed to be the right game.”

 

Tickets still available for Titans vs. Bengals Sept. 21, order yours today!

    

 

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