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Notes: Still, Alex Smith to IR; Start the Freezer Bowl reminisces; Road challenges next season

Posted Dec 30, 2013

The Bengals put two more regulars on season-ending injured reserve, driving up the number of starters and regulars on IR to nine and 12 overall.


Devon Still

Updated: 12-30-13, 6:10 p.m.

The Bengals put two more regulars on season-ending injured reserve Monday, driving up the number of starters and regulars on IR to nine and 12 overall.

As expected, backup tight end Alex Smith, who had played in every game this year, had his season ended when he dislocated his wrist in his first start on Sunday.

Unexpectedly, backup defensive tackle Devon Still went on IR when it was revealed he suffered a herniated disc in practice Dec. 18. Still, a second-round pick in 2012, had a tough year physically. He missed four games earlier with a shoulder problem.

The Bengals replaced him with free agent Ogemdi Nwagbuo, a fourth-year D-tackle from Michigan State. The 6-5, 312-pound Nwagbuo has played in 36 NFL games with six starts with San Diego (2009-11) and Carolina ('11). He played in one game for Detroit in 2012 and was with the Lions in the 2013 preseason.

He has 44 career tackles, including 1.5 sacks, two passes defensed and a fumble recovery and hasn't been with a club since the Lions waived him Aug. 31. He most likely won't be active this Sunday, particularly with defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer saying Monday he's looking to get more reps for rookie end Margus Hunt.

The Bengals are still looking to fill one more roster spot with a tight end.

Also Monday they signed free agent cornerback Brandon Burton and free agent defensive tackle Zach Minter to Reserve/Future contracts, which means they won't be on the roster until the Monday after the Super Bowl.

The 5-11, 190-pound Burton, a fifth-round pick out of Utah by the Vikings, is a third-year player who worked in 14 games with one start for Minnesota during 2011-12. He was with the Vikings in the 2013 preseason, but played in the first five games of this season with Buffalo before being waived Oct. 28.

The 6-1, 297-pound Minter signed with Chicago this past May as a free agent out of Montana State and played in two games before being waived Nov. 5.

QUICK FREEZE: With the Bengals hosting the Chargers in the playoffs Sunday at 1 p.m. for the first time since the infamous Freezer Bowl of Jan. 10, 1982, let the reminisces of that AFC title game commence.

Here are a couple of quick ones to get you ready for the rest of the week:

Ken Anderson, the Bengals quarterback in that minus-59-degree wind chill day who remains the only quarterback to win a game on two different planets, recalled Monday that tight end M.L. Harris caught the first of Anderson's two touchdown passes with gloves he wore to the game and pulled out of his jacket pocket.

"There wasn't the cold-weather gear then that there is now," Anderson said.

Anderson, 64, still feels the effects of playing in that game.

"I'm OK at 60 (degrees) but after that …," Anderson said. "I always make sure I over-dress for the weather."

It had the same impact on his opposite number that day, Chargers Hall of Famer Dan Fouts. A few years ago when Anderson was still coaching in the NFL and Fouts was broadcasting a game on the West Coast, they found themselves talking in the early evening as the temperature dropped and both commented they needed gloves.

Cincinnati mayor John Cranley, at Paul Brown Stadium on Monday urging fans to buy tickets for a sellout, recalled his parents went to the game and he went outside and played Nerf football.

SLANTS AND SCREENS

» With 10,000 tickets available for Sunday, the Bengals are staffing the ticket office New Year's Day from 9 a.m.-7 p.m. Jeff Berding, the club's direcor of sales and public affairs, says the NFL has a target date of a couple of thousand when determining a 24-hour extension from Thursday at 1 p.m. to Friday at 1 p.m. in an effort to get a sellout so the game can be televised locally.

» With the National Weather Service in Wilmington, Ohio calling for 40 degrees and rain Sunday, Elias reports that Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers is 4-1 the past two seasons in games played below 40 degrees, including 1-1 this season.

Rivers is one of those guys that knows exactly whom Zimnmer is. In fact, the last two years when the Bengals beat the Chargers in San Diego, Rivers stopped by the Bengals bus to chat in what has become a mutual admiration society.

The one matchup Zimmer is looking at is third down. The Bengals are No. 2 on defense and the Chargers are No. 1 on offense as San Diego comes into the place where third downs go to die. At home the Bengals are holding foes to 23 percent on third down at 24-for-104.

» If the Bengals go all the way to the Super Bowl, they'll see the same faces in the next regular season when they host Peyton Manning and his Broncos at Paul Brown Stadium and travel to Foxboro to play the Patriots.

On the 2014 list of opponents released by the NFL on Monday, the Bengals also host the NFC South champ Panthers, as well as the Jaguars, Titans and Falcons in addition to the AFC North foes. The Bengals go on the road to Houston, Indianapolis, New Orleans and Tampa Bay, as well as New England and they'll try to make some history. The Bengals haven't won in Houston since 2002, Indianapolis since 1997 and Tampa Bay since 1983. The last time they played in New Orleans in 2006 they won.

If the Bengals beat San Diego this Sunday, they'll head to New England, where they haven't won since 1986. If they break that streak and the Broncos hold their top seed, the Bengals battle for the AFC title and try to win their first game at Mile High since 1975.

The game against Manning in an AFC title game would be a close-the-circle game. Since Manning won at PBS on Nov. 4, 2012 as the Bengals fell to 3-5, Cincinnati is 18-6 overall and 11-1 at home.

The dates of the games are usually released in mid April.

» Cranley has a bet with San Diego mayor Todd Gloria that he revealed Monday before head coach Marvin Lewis's news conference. If the Bengals beat the Chargers, Gloria will wear a Bengals jersey to his weekly press conference and send San Diego brewed craft beers to Cincinnati. If the Chargers win, Cranley sends a package of goodies from Montgomery Inn, Graeter's Ice Cream and Gold Star Chili.

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