GEORGETOWN, Ky. — After Monday night's practice head coach Marvin Lewis said he expects his starters to play more than usual in Friday's 7:30 p.m. preseason opener in Detroit. Especially on offense, where there are five different starters from last year's preseason opener in Canton.
» Two of those are at wide receiver and after a week everyone has been watching first-rounder A.J. Green go up and get it, Jerome Simpson reminded people at Georgetown College that he's an athletic specimen, too. He skied over cornerback Fred Bennett to pluck a jump ball from Bruce Gradkowski. Soon after in the third-and-long period, Gradkowski launched a 50-yard touchdown to Simpson racing past rookie cornerback Korey Lindsey.
"I was kind of jealous out there," Simpson joked. "I love the way (Green) goes up and gets the ball. He's fun to watch. We both like to compete like that and we're trying to make each other better."
» The bomb was one of the few successes in the third-and-long drill. Not pleased, offensive coordinator Jay Gruden estimated the offense converted only three or four out of 15. It took the eighth practice and third-and-long for quarterback Andy Dalton to struggle with his receivers for a long stretch. Gruden though the offense performed well in the early periods. But he counted at least four receiver-tight end mental mistakes on their routes.
Green made one of his few mistakes of this camp with a false start, but he's been smart enough to line up all over. On Monday he went in motion once and once he lined up inside split-out tight end Jermaine Gresham.
"That's why you don't want to get in third-and-long," Gruden said. "Multiple coverages, multiple blitzes, and we didn't handle it very well. It was uncharacteristic. The more they hear the routes, the more they see them, the more they do them, they're going to be better."
» Monday night marked safety Gibril Wilson's return to the field 343 days after tearing his ACL against the Eagles in a preseason game at Paul Brown Stadium. He announced himself in the first bout of training camp in one of the longest skirmishes ever when he went after rookie running back Jonathan Williams following his run downfield.
"It felt pretty good the whole time," said a much calmer Wilson after practice. "I don't think I'm where I was, but if I continue to keep going up, I think I'll be ready. I know I'm much further along in the playbook than I was because I've been out a year and I've been learning the defense. I just have to get physically ready."
» So what else is new? Nickel linebacker Brandon Johnson got his hand on another pass, this one from Dalton to running back Brian Leonard, and middle linebacker Rey Maualuga picked off the quick deflection to continue a camp that is passing muster with the coaches as he makes the transition from SAM backer.
"He's getting the calls, he's good in the huddle," said defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer. "He still misses gaps sometimes, but he's fine."
» Kicker Mike Nugent is still perfect in training camp with one more made field goal Monday night. Long snapper Clark Harris has been almost as perfect, but he had a low one that denied a Nugent bid. Rookie Thomas Weber curved a 51-yarder wide left.
» The Wilson-Williams joust got things going. Rookie linebacker DeQuin Evans got into it with veteran right tackle Anthony Collins. Evans, the local favorite from Kentucky, has impressed with his speed rush and exhaustive study habits as he bids to get a spot on the practice squad. The coaches gave him a nice little test Monday against the No. 1 left tackle and the 6-7, 335-pound Andrew Whitworth enveloped the 6-3, 256-pound Evans.
» Running back Cedric Benson got his most work this season and he kicked around happily. He showed off his fresh legs with some high-stepping bursts, and he's clearly in shape.
» No word on guard Otis Hudson after he was helped off the field. Left end Carlos Dunlap missed his second straight practice with what doesn't seem to be a serious knee issue. Wide receiver Andre Caldwell missed Monday night with what seems to be some kind of muscle pull that also doesn't seem to be serious. But rookie defensive tackle Lolomana Mikaele had his arm in a brace with some kind of significant arm problem. Out again with what looked to be hamstring pulls were running back Bernard Scott, fullback Fui Vakapuna, and cornerback Brandon Ghee.
» Sirius NFL Radio makes its Georgetown stop Tuesday with former Bengals safety Solomon Wilcots and Jim Miller at the mike for a 3:40 p.m. workout.