Notes: Green catches votes; Rams-Bengals moves; Dunlap, Smith limited; Nugent appreciates vote

Posted Dec 14, 2011

Carlos Dunlap

Updated: 7:55 p.m.

With 2012 Pro Bowl fan voting continuing online and on Web-enabled mobile phones by going to through Dec. 19, rookie wide receiver A.J. Green is the club’s most popular player on the ballot with 462,273 votes that put him third among AFC wide receivers behind New England's Wes Welker (896,198) and Pittsburgh's Mike Wallace (742,206) for the final spot.

But once the players and coaches get done voting, the Pro Bowl team that is announced Dec. 27 (7 p.m.-NFL Network) usually looks much different. Last year Bengals left tackle Andrew Whitworth led the fan voting at tackle but didn’t make the AFC squad.

Defensive tackle Geno Atkins is holding on to about a 30,000-vote lead over Cleveland's Ahtyba Rubin for fourth place and rookie quarterback Andy Dalton is the other top-five Bengal with 262,879 votes, 114,917 votes out of fourth place and Bills quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick, the former Bengal that was Dalton’s first of four fourth-quarter victims.

Dalton is getting Tebowed with Denver’s Tim Tebow comfortably in third at 420,539, but nobody is going to catch New England’s Tom Brady and that includes second-place Ben Roethlisberger of  the Steelers, more than 400,000 votes behind Brady’s 1,149,721.

With 482,528 votes, Ravens defensive tackle Haloti Ngata has about a 100,000-vote lead over Oakland's Richard Seymour. But none of the top five can match Atkins's NFL-best seven sacks for tackles.

BACKS REVISITED: Two of the greatest what-ifs in Bengals history are going to be on display when Cincinnati plays at the Edward Jones Dome this Sunday (1 p.m.-Cincinnati’s Local 12). The Bengals are going to be trying to stop the all-time Rams leading rusher, Steven Jackson, on a day the club honors Rams running back Marshall Faulk’s induction in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

The Bengals nearly had both of them. In 1994 they opted for Ohio State tackle Dan Wilkinson with the first pick in the 1994 draft over Faulk. And 10 years later the Bengals traded the 24th pick in the draft to St. Louis so the Rams could select Jackson and they could take the running back they wanted two slots later in Michigan’s Chris Perry in exchange for the Rams fourth-round pick.

Before Perry got hurt, the Bengals envisioned him as a two-way threat in the James Brooks mold. But Jackson keeps on rolling while the careers of Perry and that fourth-round selection, offensive lineman Stacy Andrews, were short-circuited by injury. Perry is out of the league after rushing for just 606 career yards while Jackson is rolling up 895 yards on 4.4 yards per carry behind an offensive line that wasn’t all that strong before it was decimated by injuries this season. Andrews went on the Giants injured reserve list last week after starting three games this season.

Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis couldn’t hide his admiration for Jackson in Wednesday’s conference call with the St. Louis media.

“Steven Jackson was a guy that we sat there and looked at in the draft and allowed the Rams to choose him,” Lewis said. “We chose the other one because we were able to add a pick at that point. So, we did a lot of work with him and have a great deal of respect for him and knew he would be a player in the NFL. I don’t think he disappointed anybody. Runs strong, runs tough and so we’ve got a great deal of respect for him.” 


» Left end Carlos Dunlap returned to practice Wednesday for the first time since reaggravating a hamstring injury Nov. 20 in Baltimore. Ranked as the most productive pass rusher in the league by when he got hurt, Dunlap has missed the last three games and four of the last five and was listed as limited.

So was right tackle Andre Smith (ankle) after he sat out last Sunday's game following his injury in Pittsburgh the week before.

Running back Brian Leonard (knee), who didn't play last week, isn't ready yet because he wasn't practicing Wednesday. Neither were outside linebacker Manny Lawson (ankle) or fullback Chris Pressley(knee). Safety Chris Crocker (knee), cornerback Nate Clements (hamstring), and running back Cedric Benson (foot) have nagging injuries that they usually rest on Wednesday and play Sunday, and they didn't work Wednesday. Buit this time Benson was listed with a back problem. Safety Gibril Wilson also sat with a back injury.

» Also out again on Wednesday was rookie outside linebacker Dontay Moch with an illness. On Monday he said he was optimistic about getting his migraine headaches under control.

» Bengals kicker Mike Nugent says the best part about being the team’s Ed Block Courage Award winner is that it was voted on by his teammates. Even if it was about two months ago and he had yet to put together his career-best season that now sits at an NFL-leading field-goal percentage of .926 on 25-of-27.

“I think I voted for Brian Leonard. It was so long ago,” Nugent said before Wednesday’s practice. “The fact it was a voting process, at the end of the day you want to have respect from the people around you, the people you work with every day. That kind of speaks a lot for it.”

Nugent, who came back from an ACL tear in his kicking leg suffered last Nov. 14 in Indianapolis, said his comeback is tied to a couple of factors. He got a break when he hurt the ACL in his right leg and not his plant leg, and he was able to work during virtually the entire lockout with holder Kevin Huber and long snapper Clark Harris.

» No one was surprised at the solid job Anthony Collins did at right tackle in place of Andre Smith (ankle) last Sunday.

“Anthony continues to prove every time he steps on the field he deserves to a starter,” said left tackle Andrew Whitworth.

» Veteran Mike McGlynn looks to have the edge over rookie Clint Boling to replace the injured Bobbie Williams, the right guard done for the season with a broken ankle. McGlynn spent his first three seasons in the league in Philadelphia practicing against the Eagles style of defense, which Rams head coach Steve Spagnuolo used to coach as a secondary and linebackers coach, so he thinks there is some familiarity.

» Safety Taylor Mays figures about six to seven of his season-high 20 or so snaps on Sunday came against Texans tight end Owen Daniels in coverage and he didn’t give up a completion. He says he's getting more comfortable in the pass game.


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