The Bengals had a big day at the polls Wednesday when wide receiver A.J. Green led all NFL wide receivers in the first returns of the fans' Pro Bowl voting and quarterback Andy Dalton became the first Bengal to win AFC Offensive Player of the Week in more than three years off Sunday's career-best four-touchdown game against the Giants.
Two of the four 2011 Bengals Pro Bowlers are well on their way to a second straight berth if the fan voting is any indication. Green, whose 258,405 votes are about 1,000 ahead of the Giants' Victor Cruz, has about a 60,000-vote lead on the Colts' Reggie Wayne and his second-place showing in the AFC. Geno Atkins is second among AFC defensive tackles with 125,632, about 20,000 shy of leader Haloti Ngata of Baltimore. Ngata and Atkins are the only ones in six figures.
The other two Pro Bowlers, Dalton and tight end Jermaine Gresham, didn't appear in the top five at their spots. Neither did left tackle Andrew Whitworth as he bids for his first selection.
Denver's Peyton Manning has a 30,000-vote lead on New England's Tom Brady and Colts rookie Andrew Luck is in fifth place in the quarterbacks chase, about 250,000 votes behind Manning.
New England's Rob Gronkowski is running away with the AFC tight end spot, more than doubling the 122,000-plus votes of Houston's Owen Daniels. As if to support Whitworth's argument that first-round draft picks get the bulk of the attention at his position, the top five tackles are all first-rounders: Jake Long, Michael Oher, Ryan Clady, Duane Brown and Joe Thomas.
All these spots send three players to the Pro Bowl except tight end, which sends two. The fan voting doesn't always correspond to the final vote and only accounts for a third of the tabulation. The coaches and players—the other two-thirds—vote with two weeks left in the season and the team is announced in Week 17.
Pro Bowl voting continues online and on web-enabled mobile phones by going to NFL.com/probowl through Dec. 17.
But Dalton on Wednesday became the third Bengal this season named an AFC Player of the Week after posting the third-best passer rating of his career Sunday at 127.6.
Cornerback Adam Jones was named AFC Special Teams Player of the Week for his performance against Cleveland on Sept. 16 when he returned three punts for 90 yards in Cincinnati's 34-27 home win that included an 81-yarder for a touchdown on the game's opening punt. Right end Michael Johnson was named AFC Defensive Player of the Week for his performance at Washington the next week when he recorded three sacks for minus-17 yards in the Bengals 38-31 win.
Also, Green was named AFC Offensive Player of the Month for September. The last Bengals player to be named AFC Offensive Player of the Week was quarterback Carson Palmer after the Bengals beat the Bears at Paul Brown Stadium, 45-10, on Oc. 25, 2009 behind his five touchdown passes.
"Not to get sacked by the Giants is huge. It just shows the offensive line played great and four different guys catching touchdown passes shows the talent we have," Dalton said. "It's not just what I was doing. It was definitely a team win."
INJURY UPDATE: Before the Bengals went out to practice Wednesday, head coach Marvin Lewis made it sound like the two guys missing from Sunday's win over the Giants, safety Reggie Nelson (hamstring) and wide receiver Marvin Jones (knee), would return to the field in limited fashion and spoke optimistically of their chances playing this Sunday (1 p.m.-Cincinnati's Channel 12) in Kansas City. But they didn't take the field, although they appeared to be running pretty vigorously against each other on the rehab field.
Also not working were Adam Jones (calf) and defensive tackle Devon Still (back). On Monday, Jones indicated it wasn't a major problem. Limited Wednesday were WILL backer Vontaze Burfict (elbow), center Jeff Faine (hamstring), defensive back Nate Clements (knee), and safety Taylor Mays (knee).
For the Chiefs, there is concern starting wide receiver Jon Baldwin is going to miss Sunday's after suffering a concucssion. He didn't work Wednesday and neither did starting right guard Jon Asamoah. Their top receiving threat, Dwayne Bowe (thigh) was limited.
DUNLAP SURAFCES: Left end Carlos Dunlap confirms that Lewis asks him every Wednesday before the week of practice begins if he's going to start that Sunday. It hasn't happened yet even though Dunlap is listed No. 1 on the depth chart and he doubts his one sack and three QB hits against the Giants are going to do it.
"That's up to them; that's a coaches' decision. I think I probably have to show more consistency," Dunlap said. "You can't just have one glimpse one week, so I'll probably have to do it another week and keep doing it in practice and in games."
LESS IS MORE: Middle linebacker Rey Maualuga losing 20 pounds from 265 to 245 pounds in the last 50 days looks to have paid off with his better play since the bye week. Linebackers coach Paul Guenther said the game against the Giants (according to the coaches 13 tackles, one pass defensed) is the best Maualuga has played of the 22 NFL games he's played at middle backer. Guenther says the slimmer Maualuga is now more equipped for pass coverage in the nickel defense, which he never played until this season.
SACK REVISION: Some sacks from the Giants game got rearranged on the stat sheet Wednesday. The sack that Dunlap and end Robert Geathers split with 9:14 left in the first quarter went to Geathers by himself to give him 1.5 on the day. On Dunlap's full sack with 48 seconds left in the half, defensive tackle Geno Atkins was awarded a forced fumble that quarterback Eli Manning fell on at the Bengals 20.
Dunlap, who also had a full sack taken away on what was later called a running play in Washington on Sept. 23, finished the game with one sack and now has two and Geathers has three on the season. It was Atkins's first forced fumble of the season and third of his career.
CHIEF CONCERN: Green said Wednesday what he said Monday when he told Sirius Radio the Bengals won't be looking past the one-win Chiefs because "we lost to freakin' Cleveland."
"I didn't mean like 'freaking we lost to Cleveland.' I just was thinking and said 'freaking,' " Green said. "Cleveland is a good team and on the rise. K.C. has a great defense and guys that can really play -- athletic corner in Brandon Flowers. We just have to play sound and consistent.
"We can't look past anyone. This is the last part of the season and I feel like the game we had last Sunday gave us momentum. The best momentum to have is in the second half of the season."
MIGHTY QUINN: The thinking is that Brady Quinn is going to start for the Chiefs at quarterback now that he's healthy after a head shot, but Lewis said both he and Matt Cassel have shown the tendency to pull the ball down and run, and that the Bengals have to be disciplined to shut them down. When the Bengals beat Quinn in their only game against him, he scored Cleveland's only points on a nine-yard scramble in the Browns 16-7 loss at Paul Brown Stadium Nov. 29, 2009.