Both QBs get ready; Henry exempted

Updated: 7:15 p.m.

Carson Palmer reiterated Monday that his inflamed elbow doesn't need surgery and while he says he's preparing to play Sunday in Dallas, head coach Marvin Lewis said the Bengals are preparing like backup Ryan Fitzpatrick is going to start.

"It's still up in the air as to what's going to happen, but I think especially by Friday of this week we'll have a better idea of what's going on," Fitzpatrick said. "I don't think anybody has a clue what's going on, starting with Carson. We'll get it figured out. Until I'm told differently, I have to approach the game like I'm a starter."

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Palmer

Palmer admitted it was "a confusing week' leading up to the medical staff's decision to bench him Sunday against Cleveland and that some things that probably shouldn't have happened did. But he wouldn't elaborate, saying only the problem was known Wednesday.

Palmer said, "It's definitely getting better. They've got me on a good rehab program. I'm trying to get it stronger. Hopefully it will get better day by day."

If Palmer played any other position, the word is he could play with the injury. If the injury was to his left elbow, he could play quarterback. His modality includes ice and hot packs, electrical stimulation, and massages.

"I'm preparing to play and start until I get word from the doctors. If they don't want me to play, I won't play," he said. "It's not correct. It's not 100 percent."

One guy who won't most likely to be active against the Cowboys is wide receiver Chris Henry. Henry, reinstated by the NFL Monday after a four-game suspension, is probably going to be on the inactive list after the Bengals get a roster exemption this week. The expemption officially came down from the NFL office late Monday afternoon, meaning Henry doesn't count on the active 53-man roster but can still practice.

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Henry

The club will have to make a call on what do with him and a roster spot next Monday. This Monday afternoon Henry headed to the practice field to work with offensive assistant Charles Collins and No. 3 quarterback Jordan Palmer. If Henry is active against Dallas, the Bengals have to cut somebody to make room. But that's not likely considering he's only worked around the team for about a week since he was cut back in April and re-signed in late August.

With running back DeDe Dorsey nursing a a hamstring injury that looks like is going to take at least a few weeks to heal and running back Kenny Watson looking like he may miss another game with a hamstring problem, Lewis said the Bengals are looking at adding a running back.

But indications are veteran Shaun Alexander isn't in the mix.

SLANTS AND SCREENS

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Perry

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After fumbling for the fourth time in four games Sunday, on Monday running back Chris Perry only looked at himself.

"I have to make sure I cover the ball when I make contact," Perry said.

Perry's last carry on Sunday resulted in the fumble when linebacker Kamerion Wimbley put his helmet on the ball and popped it loose at the Bengals 24 with 12:58 left and the Bengals trailing, 10-6. The Browns made it 17-6 less than two minutes later. Game. Set. Match.

That was his 72nd carry of the season. He came into this season with 73 carries total in his injury-marred four-year career, but says the fumbles aren't because of rust.

"That's a very easy excuse," Perry said. "I just have to take care of the ball."

Perry, mired at 2.9 yards per carry, continues to blame himself.

"The job of a running back is to make the linemen right," Perry said. "Make sure they go a certain way before I make my cut. So I make sure I don't make my cut premature."

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Still, head coach Marvin Lewis isn't pleased with the offensive line play.

"I'm disappointed in how we played physically, particularly in the running game, I think more than anything," Lewis said at his Monday news conference. "I was disappointed with our outcome yesterday, and our finish. We've got to do a better job."

Compared to a defense that starts only two players with five years of NFL experience (defensive tackle John Thornton and middle linebacker Dhani Jones), the seasoned offensive line in which no player has less than four seasons is coming under heavy scrutiny.

"I do believe there's a lot to be said for experience," Lewis said. "But you've got to come out and do it together all the time. And you've got to block the looks together. You've got to finish the looks together. And you've just got to keep chiseling at it. And that's what we're going to do."

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Which receiver is let go when Henry goes back on the active roster? Or would the Bengals keep seven? They have to keep Chad Ocho Cinco and T.J. Houshmandzadeh, as well as their two rookies, Jerome Simpson and Andre Caldwell, even though one of them will be inactive for the foreseeable future. The other two are among the NFL leaders in returns. Glenn Holt is 11th with a 26.2-yard average on kicks and Chatman is 10th in punt returns at 10.3.

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After all of Sunday's flailing, the Browns (32) and Bengals (31) are still the NFL's two worst offenses. You can't pick out any specific area for the Bengals. They're 31st passing and 30th rushing.

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The defense is ranked about as high as it has been lately. It is 19th overall, but 28th against the run. One good yard stick, points allowed, puts the Bengals almost in the middle of the pack at 17th.

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