Updated: 7:45 p.m.
Head coach Marvin Lewis said in a Monday news conference that quarterback Carson Palmer more than likley won't play Thursday night against the Rams. But he wouldn't rule him out practicing this week. "I was encouraged yesterday by things he was able to do," Lewis said.
Palmer threw lightly on his sprained ankle on the side at the beginning of Sunday's practice before heading inside for rehab and he said he won't practice Monday. But on Monday he also said he'll be ready for the Sept. 13 opener against Denver.
"Anything before that, we'll see where we're at," Palmer said. "The best thing for me and this team is to play as much as possible and everybody to play as much as possible. Get some significant time in every game. But that's not reality. That's not the reality in my situation. I'm taking it one day a time. The main goal is the Denver Broncos here at Paul Brown Stadium. That's ample time to get ready and be 100 percent for that one."
Palmer said the ankle is improving "day-to-day."
Lewis listed other players probably missing the Paul Brown Stadium opener as kicker Shayne Graham (groin), defensive tackle Pernell Phillips (leg), tight end Matt Sherry (shoulder), defensive end Antwan Odom (Achilles), wide receiver Antonio Chatman (ankle), cornerback David Jones (foot), and tight end Ben Utecht (concussion).
SAM linebacker Rashad Jeanty returned to a Monday practice of shoulder pads and shorts after the club gave his leg with the rod in it a rest over the weekend.
Although Palmer has only played in four series this season, he likes what the Bengals have done on offense, which is pile up enough yards to be sixth in the league this preseason.
"We're firing on all cylinders," Palmer said. "Obviously we have to clean things up, but we're headed in the right direction. We have the right mindset and are thinking the right way right now and we just need to continue to get everybody healthy."
The Bengals are 10th in the league in passing and eighth in rushing, which doesn't surprise right guard Bobbie Williams.
"We're further ahead of where our run game was last year. I think it's going to show," Williams said. "A lot of it is the coaches and the coaching scheme and too, the players and the attitude and the look that they have."
Williams thinks the new guy next him, center Kyle Cook, has a lot to do with it because he has been able to settle the line down with his communication skills.
"I knew that he would be a perfect fit in there, but he has exceeded those expectations," he said. "And I know it will be an uphill road for him. Nothing but a bright future."
CENTER NUMBERS: Ah, the numbers game.
Offensive coordinator Bob Bratkowski mused about it after Monday's practice. Two tight ends or three? Two fullbacks or one? Rosters aren't finalized until Sept. 6 and that just seemed like a long way away on Monday.
"That's not set in stone," said Bratkowski of keeping two fullbacks. "We haven't even gotten into what the injury situation might be then or who'll be cut off other teams. I'm not going to speculate."
What isn't speculative is that the coaches have been impressed with all three fullbacks, but one, and maybe two, won't make it.
If the Bengals go with three tight ends and two fullbacks, they would probably have to go with nine offensive linemen instead of 10.
"As long as you (have the backups covered)," Bratkowski said. "The problem with the linemen is that you need somebody that can be a backup center-guard on either side, and you've got to have a guy that can play guard and tackle. The center position is probably the most important one because that's such a highly-skilled position. Someone that proves he can be a backup center probably carries a little more weight."
One complication is that with rookie right tackle Andre Smith unsigned the Bengals have to keep an extra tackle, so in order to keep it to nine linemen (count the five starters, veteran guard-tackle Scott Kooistra, right tackle Dennis Roland, backup center Jonathan Luigs ) they've got to find that versatile guard-center.
With Luigs not practicing this week with an undetermined ailment, Bratkowski said they're preparing for his absence by giving guard Evan Mathis snaps at center this week in practice. Guard Andrew Crummey has been taking some snaps in the preseason games after Luigs and starter Kyle Cook work.
Mathis has practiced at all five spots during his five NFL seasons and the Bengals want to get a look at him snapping the ball in a game.
"He's doing OK; it's a different thing when you have to snap it and then make your block," Bratkowski said. "The biggest concern I have is we're not having (quarterback-center) exchange problems in a game. But we have to play those guys in there. Particularly if Jonathan isn't able to play."
As for guard Jason Shirley's two-week switch from defensive tackle to guard, Bratkowski remains intrigued. "It's going pretty good," he said. He added Shirley had a pancake block against the Pats, but Bratkowski also said, "I'm not sure he's quite ready to play in the regular season, but he shows potential."
That sounds like the practice squad. Especially if there are just nine linemen.
MOORE SIGNS: With their defensive line depleted, the Bengals signed old friend Langston Moore on Monday night. Moore, a fifth-year tackle, broke into the NFL with Cincinnati in 2003 and has been in Detroit the past two seasons.
The Bengals made the move because they need bodies. Rookie tackles Clinton McDonald and Pernell Philips are dinged up and veteran ends Antwan Odom (Achilles) amd Frostee Rucker (hip) are fighting injuries. But the 6-1, 305-pound Moore has a shot to make this team behind Domata Peko, Tank Johnson and Pat Sims depending how many D-linemen they keep.
Moore couldn't find a job after the Lions let him go to free agency despite a pretty solid year of 37 tackles and two sacks in all 16 games, and he had 27 tackles and one sack in nine games for Detroit in '07. Moore also played a season-and-a-half in Arizona and in 51 career NFL games has 116 tackles with five sacks and three forced fumbles.
Moore spent most of his rookie year on the practice squad after the Bengals took him in the sixth round out of South Carolina in 2003. He then made a career-high 41 tackles for the Bengals in '04 with a sack in eight starts and 15 games.