Palmer ready for next practice; Utecht waits

Posted Aug 25, 2009

Updated: 3:50 p.m.

Head coach Marvin Lewis liked the way quarterback Carson Palmer (ankle) looked Tuesday and said he'll be ready to go when the club "begins practice again." Lewis wouldn't say if he meant Wednesday's walkthrough or Saturday's practice, but it sounded like Palmer will play in that Sept. 3 preseason finale.

UTECHT WAITS: Ben Utecht can't even really play the guitar right now, never mind tight end, as he copes with the frustration of dealing with his fifth concussion. With symptoms from the Aug. 5 injury still lingering, doctors have advised him to lay low and not raise his blood pressure.

"There's no time frame. It's not like a knee," he said when he surfaced in the Bengals locker room Tuesday morning. "It's very frustrating."

The subdued Utecht doesn't look close to returning and he admitted he still has to make the big decision to return to play at all. But since his symptoms are still lingering, he's not there yet.

"It's my job. I love this game. My goal is to play," Utecht said. "Am I of the right mind to make that decision? No. We've just got to keep taking it a week at a time. Get better.

"I've put it in the back of my mind until the time comes, if that time comes," Utecht said of the final call. "It's your mind. It has an affect on your personality. It's your livelihood. It's been tough the past couple of weeks to be happy."

On Monday, Utecht met with Dr. Robert Cantu, a renowned concussion expert based in Boston. Bengals trainer Paul Sparling said the club has already been giving its players baseline cognitive examinations for more a decade so that doctors know what that individual's normal brain function is after he suffered an injury. A few years ago at a concussion summit the NFL mandated that all players undergo those baseline exams.

The Bengals use a consultant to handle their concussion examinations, Cincinnati-based neuropsychologist Thomas Sullivan, and Utecht has made weekly visits to have his progress checked.

Utecht said all the doctors have told him basically the same thing: All but the most severe concussions heal. It's merely a matter of how long. He cut his first Christian CD back in the spring and he and his wife just had their first child about four months ago, so he's got a lot to ponder with a fifth concussion. 

"It's getting up there; it's part of the game," he said. "Some guys play 10 years and never have a problem. Other guys, it just happens. (Cantu) basically said the same thing our doctors here have said. 'You're still dealing with symptoms. We need to continue to improve those symptoms before we make any decisions.' "

Utecht blacked out for nearly a minute after a helmet-to-helmet hit with linebacker Darryl Blackstock in a half-line blocking drill. He said he still hasn't watched it as a way to move past it. 

"I don't really want to see it," he said. "I try to do as much as I can to make me stress-free."

PRACTICE CHECK: The Bengals practiced Tuesday in Paul Brown Stadium without Palmer (ankle), defensive end Frostee Rucker (hip), defensive end Antwan Odom (Achilles) and wide receiver Antonio Chatman (ankle). Lewis treated it like a regular-season Friday in preparation for Thursday night's game and pumped in the crowd noise during scrimmage play.



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