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Notes: Rey, Dunlap suffer knee sprains; Worst feared for Wharton; Burfict solves Tebow; Moch rules

Posted Aug 10, 2012


Vontaze Burfict celebrates his interception.

Middle linebacker Rey Maualuga and left end Carlos Dunlap suffered right knee sprains in the opening minutes of the preseason Friday night at Paul Brown Stadium and Maualuga said he'll miss only a couple of days of practice.

"I got good news from the trainer," Maualuga said after the 17-6 victory over the Jets. "Tomorrow we've got off and I could be back Sunday for practice."

Dunlap had no comment and there is no time frame, but a knee sprain usually takes a couple of weeks depending on the severity.

But the news looked devastating for left guard Travelle Wharton, the first one to go down on Cincinnati's third offensive play. Wharton, who signed for $3 million per his three years back in March, grimly stood on crutches outside the MRI room at PBS at halftime and the fear is he has suffered a season-ending right knee injury.

TEZ AGAIN: Bengals backup middle linebacker Vontaze Burfict, the most controversial undrafted player in this year's NFL rookie class, met the league's most controversial player Friday night and the kid won when he made a diving interception of Jets backup quarterback Tim Tebow and returned it five yards to the Bengals 31.

"Is that Tim Tebow's first interception?" Burfict wanted to know, pointing to a ball in his rookie's temporary locker stall. "There it is right there."

It certainly is Tebow's first interception as a Jet and the most documented of his life. It was Burfict's second pick in five days dating back to the mock game and shows why he has a very real chance of making the team.

In a very uncontroversial camp, the Bengals coaches like how Burfict has responded to reacting to formations and this was a prime example on first-and-10 as Burfict lined up to cover tight end Jeff Cumberland and then cut in front of him when the wing man in the slot went to the sideline.

"It was a stick route and most every team runs them," Burfict said. "My man came up and ran a five-yard route and I just jumped the route and the ball was magically there."

Well, Tebow put it there on his last throw of the night, leaving him 4-of-8 for 27 yards.

"The one that I felt like I really wanted back was the last play to Jeff. One, we are in the red zone, so there is no reason to force it," Tebow said. "I tried to put it low and outside, but that was a heck of a catch by that kid (Burfict), and that was just a stupid play by me.”

The Bengals also like the way Burfict studies the game.

"I watched the first group go in and watched what the Jets were running, so I figured they’d run the same plays when the twos (second team) and threes (third team) came in," Burfict said, "So it was kind of like the film room for me on the sideline while they were in.

"It's amazing. This whole week my prayers were, 'Just let me get a turnover. Just let me get a pick, fumble recovery, a sack.' Just let me go out there and play ball."

Consider it done.

"I'm going to keep it," Burfict said, pointing to the ball.

MOCH RULES: This is what the Bengals thought Dontay Moch could do when they drafted him out of Nevada in the third round in 2011 after a scouting combine he won the decathlon with a 4.3 40-yard dash and out of this world jumps.

Get to the quarterback.

And after getting hurt in last year's preseason opener on the second series never to be seen again, that's what Moch did Friday night working against the Jets backups.

Twice. But it's not exactly the way they drew it up.

The first sack came from his new position of defensive end on a stunt with Micah Johnson. The next one, a half sack, came on a blitz from his old position of SAM backer and forced Jets quarterback Greg McElroy to fumble a ball that was recovered by defensive tackle Brandon Thompson at the Jets 43 with 9:07 left in the game.

"I definitely think I can play at end right away. I'm probably a little more natural there because I played it in college and high school," Moch said. "But I'm making progress at linebacker. I definitely think I'm making progress with the playbook."

The foot injury he suffered in Detroit almost a year to the day on Aug. 12, 2011, has been the least of his problems. When he returned in about four weeks, Moch was kept off the field by migraine headaches and the season was suddenly over.

Then when the migraines finally resolved during the offseason, it was revealed he's suspended for the first four games of this season for violating the NFL policy on performance enhancing drugs.

"The migraines are completely under control. I haven't had any episodes," Moch said. "I have to learn from (the suspension) and just stay positive."

When the Bengals work on their nickel rushes, Moch goes with defensive line coach Jay Hayes. When they work on base defense, he goes with linebackers coach Paul Guenther. In his first action in a year, so far so good. A tidy line Friday night of 1.5 sacks, three tackles, one forced fumble and a quarterback hurry.

"I like being able to mix both," Moch said of end and backer. "To see where I am and see what I can do."

The nice thing for him now is he only has to wait five days to show the coaches what he can do again instead of a year when the Bengals play in Atlanta on Thursday night.

SLANTS AND SCREENS

» You don’t see it very often. Bengals Pro Bowl wide receiver A.J. Green dropping a touchdown pass. But he did it Friday night after he made a great inside release on Pro Bowl cornerback Darrelle Revis with the Bengals on a second-and-goal from the 4 in their 15-play that netted a field goal. And quarterback Andy Dalton rifled a strike, but it bounced off Green's hands.

"I've got say that shocked me," Dalton said. "A.J. has made so many tougher catches than that. But it’s the first game of the preseason, and I think you know nobody’s worried about A.J. He’ll make that catch every time when it counts.”

» Offensive coordinator Jay Gruden's No. 2 receiver-by-committee is off and running. Brandon Tate had two catches, one a leaping 14-yarder, and Armon Binns also had two catches, one a leaping 16-yarder. And rookie Marvin Jones had the longest play of the game, a 45-yard bomb from Bruce Gradkowski that was aided by a cutback after the catch.

The QBs like Jones's speed.

"Bruce grabbed his facemask when he saw I was one-on-one," Jones said. "It was a go route and my man was inside."

» Safety Taylor Mays left when he got hit in the head, but head coach Marvin Lewis wasn't ready to call it a concussion.

 

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