Alive and kicking

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Shayne Graham

Updated: 9:20 p.m.

Shayne Graham hasn't made a field goal in a game since he went three-for-three in last season's finale at Paul Brown Stadium. But then, even if he had made one in the preseason it wouldn't have mattered.

"The only kick in your career that matters is the next one," said Graham, who has only missed 12.5 percent of them as a Bengal. "I feel that way before every kick. There's nothing you've done that makes one difference. There's no stat before any kick that makes a difference, there's no memory that makes a difference. All that matters is getting lined up for the next kick."

After missing a 30-yard chip shot wide left in the preseason opener, Graham never saw the field again after coming up with a sore groin before the Aug. 20 game in New England. Graham and his coach, Darrin Simmons, don't seem worried.

After all, he is the most accurate kicker in Bengals history (87.5 percent) and the fourth most of all time at 85.6 behind Mike Vanderjagt (86.5), Nate Kaeding at 86.1 and Robbie Gould at 85.9.

In the years Graham missed preseason games, he ended up going to the Pro Bowl in 2005 and setting three club records in 2007.

"In '05 we had a lot of field-goal tries, a lot of extra-point tries," Graham said. "We ended up going to the playoffs and had a great season and I ended up going to the Pro Bowl that year. There's no reason for me to think there's any reason to be worried about this right now."

Simmons can find something to worry about because he's the coach. The '05 and '07 seasons were also years Graham had the same holder in punter Kyle Larson. This year Graham has a rookie in Kevin Huber.

"A long layoff is something you don't want for a kicker getting ready for the season. You'd like more work with the operation, but I think he'll be fine," Simmons said. "He's already worked plenty with those guys and Kevin is a good enough holder that I don't think it's going to be a problem. He kicked off last week and we're just going to monitor his number of kicks."

If Carson Palmer was on a pitch count in training camp then Graham, 31, is going to be on a kick count to at least start the season. But he said the only idea behind the rehab was to be ready for Sept. 13 and "I've been kicking a few times."

After the short miss in New Orleans, Graham did say he'd been focusing on his longer kicks during the offseason but that he didn't think that would be a problem once the season got underway.

WHIT AND WISDOM: Left tackle Andrew Whitworth, expected to be the Bengals NFL Players Association's representative, said he had some interesting conversations with some of his teammates last week. With the players and owners headed to a season with no salary cap in 2010, some players on the last year of their deals just assumed they would be hitting the market at just the right time.

But in an uncapped year, restricted free agency jumps from three years to five years of service and unrestricted from four to six.

"A lot of guys don't understand what uncapped means as far as free agency," Whitworth said. "They got a shocker when I met with them last week and I told them it's not going to happen because it's six years to free agency. I had an interesting meeting with them last week ... let these guys know there are a lot of issues and topics they need to be on top of. Like benefits, insurance, all the things that could happen if there is a lockout or uncapped years.

"I'm sure there are true free agents that have a chance to go somewhere that have been in the league a long time and have a chance to be paid a lot of money. But other guys that are less than six years are in a pretty good bind."

The Bengals who would have been free agents in a capped year but won't be when it is uncapped are wide receiver Chris Henry, running back DeDe Dorsey, linebackers Rashad Jeanty and Brandon Johnson, offensive lineman Evan Mathis and defensive end Frostee Rucker. Whitworth says it is part of his education campaign.

"We need to make all 53 guys in the (locker) room know what the issues are," he said. "We don't need to be just concerned with about five or six percent of the players that just make big salaries."

If Whitworth sounds like a moderater in the CBA tractor pull, he sounds right in line with the rest of the veterans when it comes to rookie salaries.

"Something like (what) the NBA does where they come in on a three-year kind of locked-in deal and have a chance to get money after that," he said. "It just doesn't make sense for millions of dollars to be thrown to those kids. What incentive do they have to be successful in the NFL if they've already made $25 million?"

DENVER UPDATE:According to reports out of Denver Tuesday, there was encouraging news about quarterback Kyle Orton's return to practice with a glove on his throwing hand to protect his injured right index finger. Orton apparently had no restrictions but head coach Josh McDaniels stopped short of naming him the starter after he shared snaps with Chris Simms. Orton is doing Wednesday's quarterback news conference.

McDaniels also had praise for wide receiver Brandon Marshall and his work this week since he returned to practice from a nine-day suspension. Even though Marshall missed pretty much the entire preseason, McDaniels says he could play a big role Sunday. He may have to. Jabar Gaffney has returned to practice but it's not known if he'll play.

SLANTS AND SCREENS

» Dorsey is a savvy veteran who has been let go by two different teams. So while he was pleased to make the 53-man roster, he knows a couple of things: He may not dress Sunday and the Bengals have to make a roster move Monday to get injured rookie tackle Andre Smith on the roster. So he's still living in a hotel.

"Hopefully it's a sign they still want me around. That's the thing about this business; you never know," he said. "I think I'll stay in the hotel for awhile and see how it plays out."

» Wide receiver Quan Cosby is about to return his first NFL punt and he admits it's going to be different than the preseason in which he rotated with fellow free agent rookie Tom Nelson: "Knowing you're going to get every one now, I think you have to prepare a little bit differently."

» Head coach Marvin Lewis said the club opted not to pick up anyone off waivers mainly because of the amount of teaching it would incur and put pressure on the mental part of the game that Lewis is emphasizing.

"At this point we're better served to coach the guys we've got and to continue to go forward rather than take a step sideways or backwards with an unknown," he said.

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