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Notes: Hall honored by Block; Both centers to play but only 1 kicker; Nugent, Dre don't work

Posted Dec 20, 2012

Updated: 10:10 p.m.

Classic Leon Hall.

He didn't vote for himself and he politely couldn't remember who got his vote. Which is one of the many reasons his teammates admire the Bengals anchor cornerback and voted him this year's recipient of the Ed Block Courage Award.

"I didn’t really think it was going to mean that much to me when we were doing the vote," Hall said after Thursday's practice. "Just knowing I’ve got respect from my peers on this team, which really matters at the end of the day, is pretty big to me."

The award honors players who demonstrate commitment to the values of sportsmanship and courage. Each NFL team selects one player as its nominee. Hall will be honored with other teams’ recipients at the annual awards banquet in Baltimore after the 2012 season.

Hall’s 2011 season was cut short in the ninth game against the Steelers when he suffered a torn Achilles tendon, the mother of all career-threatening injuries.

And by all accounts he's not only come back, he's been solid. The Bengals have allowed the third-fewest TD passes in the league (15) and just one red-zone TD pass in the last six games. His first interception since the day he got hurt against the Steelers (Nov. 13, 2011) came last Thursday night in Philadelphia and bailed the Bengals out of a dicey third-quarter hole and provided a nice close to the circle this Sunday (1 p.m.-Cincinnati's Channel 12) in Pittsburgh.

"I’ve kind of been over that chapter for a while but this can definitely go at the end of the chapter, for sure," Hall said of the Block.

And that was after Bengals head athletic trainer Paul Sparling looked at the nature of the injury and put the early projections from the Bengals medical staff at Hall starting this season on the Physically Unable to Perform list (PUP) and missing the first six games. But he was on time for training camp and made his sixth Opening Day start. Despite missing two games early in the season with a calf injury, Hall has played 75 percent of his team's snaps with 778, according to profootballfocus.com. 

“Leon approached the rehabilitation from his Achilles tendon injury last season with determination to beat the odds and return to play by the start of the season,” Sparling said. “He put forth the effort, time and energy in his recovery and rehabilitation to give himself the best chance to do just that.

“He set a great example of what it takes to be able to overcome a challenge, which was recognized by his teammates in being selected to represent the club for this award.”

It was a formidable ballot with respected locker-room figures like Robert Geathers, Brian Leonard, Chris Crocker and Kyle Cook. All are worthy. But no one quibbles with Hall.

"I think the physical part of it was kind of expected just as far as how far and how fast or how slow the progression went," Hall said. "It was expected. But I think the mental part was kind of rough just because you know it’s supposed to go slow, but when you’re in the middle of it and it’s going so slow, it’s hard to deal with sometimes."

CENTER ROTATION: Look for both centers to play Sunday against the Steelers when the Bengals head to Heinz Field to play the NFL's No. 1 defense.

In his second game back from ankle surgery Thursday night in Philadelphia, veteran Kyle Cook played 40 snaps to rookie Trevor Robinson's 42 a few days after they split 62 in Cook's 2012 debut against Dallas.

Offensive line coach Paul Alexander said Wednesday the Bengals are sticking with the rotation and compares it to 2009 when Nate Livings and Evan Mathis split time at left guard.

"They're both playing even and if you've got two even guys like Livings and Mathis, you get a more energetic guy," Alexander said. "Both played well on Thursday night. Cook was a little rusty in his first game back. I expect both to play."

Alexander said the centers had nothing to do with last Thursday night's six sacks, which tied a season high.

"I thought we played really well against Dallas and we ran the ball outstanding against Philadelphia," he said.

ONE KICKER: The Bengals haven't decided if it is going to be Mike Nugent or Josh Brown, but special teams coach Darrin Simmons says he can't see suiting up two for a game and that one will be inactive and right now it looks like it is going to be Nugent. After going limited for the first time Wednesday since he injured his right calf two weeks ago, Nugent didn't kick in practice. Simmons said Nugent has kicked this week and is letting him ease back into it, but this may be a bad sign.

Simmons says the club needs the cover guy that would have to sit down in the second kicker's place. He indicated it could be an 11:30 a.m. Sunday decision, when head coach Marvin Lewis has to hand in his inactive sheet.

PRACTICE REPORT: Rookie cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick, who returned to practice after suffering a concussion Wednesday, was not on the field Thursday, indicating he is still having symptoms. Left tackle Andrew Whitworth, who suffered a concussion Thursday night, was back on the field after being limited Wednesday and went full Thursday. Running back Cedric Peerman (ankle) went limited for the second straight day. Right tackle Andre Smith (foot) surfaced on Thursday's report and went limited.

For the Steelers, cornerback Kendall Lewis (hip) didn't practice Thursday after he went limited Wednesday. With Ike Taylor (leg) expected to be out, Lewis is the guy that figures to cover Bengals wide receiver A.J. Green. Wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders (rib) went full go Thursday.

 

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