Updated: 7:50 p.m.
GEORGETOWN, Ky. - As usually happens in a much anticipated event, the names you don't expect to hear are all you hear. Such was the way Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis' Oklahoma drill unfolded Sunday in his team's first practice of the year in full pads.
With an offensive blocker lined up against a defensive player assigned to tackle the runner after a handoff, one of little-known center Kyle Cook's two wins came against rookie linebacker Rey Maualuga, the nation's top defensive player.
Defensive tackle Pat Sims also had two impressive wins, the last coming when he fought off a block by guard Andrew Crummey to the left and then turned around to the right to tackle the runner.
The most emotion-charged moment came when practice squad wide receiver Maurice Purify drove five-time Pro Bowl safety Roy Williams five yards back and they ended up on the ground hooked to each other's helmets. The offense treated it like a Super Bowl win while some had to be separated as the defenders tried to get Purify off Williams.
"He went easy on me," Purify said.
The fullback scrum took an interesting turn when Jeremi Johnson held up well in his two clashes, the last one driving away WILL linebacker Keith Rivers and rookie Fui Vakapuna, trying to hold on to the No. 1 spot, got out-leveraged by backup middle linebacker Abdul Hodge. College rookie free agent Dan Skuta, a linebacker, got his helmet ripped off against backup fullback J.D. Runnels but Skuta still made the play.
Rookie defensive end Michael Johnson, a 265-pounder, also did what he's not supposed to do when he outmuscled a 15-game NFL veteran, 300-pounder Evan Mathis, and then made the tackle on running back Cedric Benson.
JOHNSON INJURED: For the second straight day the Bengals depth took a hit when backup WILL linebacker Brandon Johnson left with what looked to be a serious hamstring injury. Indications are it could take anywhere from two to four weeks to heal. On Saturday backup cornerback David Jones suffered an undisclosed foot injury that put him in a boot and forced the Bengals to re-sign Jamar Fletcher. Those two developments point to extended time off.
SUNDAY HIGHLIGHTS: Quarterback Carson Palmer missed his second straight practice with an illness and backups J.T. O'Sullivan and Jordan Palmer got all the throws. O'Sullivan looked sharper than Saturday night and made a nice throw rolling away from pressure that was snatched at the knees by wide receiver Chris Henry running across the middle. He also found wide receiver Jerome Simpson with heat in his face and Simpson made a leaping catch over the middle. It was Simpson's best practice by far. When O'Sullivan underthrew one ball, wide receiver Chad Ochocinco came back to make a rolling, diving catch. The Ocho has looked pretty solid.
The concentration on improving the pass rush looks to be paying off. Michael Johnson had a big day Saturday night and defensive tackle Tank Johnson walked in untouched on one slap against the first O-line.