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Crocker, Hebert questionable; Harvin sits again; Bengals salute soldiers

Updated: 3:05 p.m.

Bengals safety Chris Crocker, who missed the last two days of practice with the ankle he injured Sunday against Detroit, indicated before Friday's practice that he would go in a limited fashion and that he still plans on playing. Also, safety and special teams captain Kyries Hebert (knee), who has also missed the last two days, was working rehab on the side and was limited.

Lewis was giving no clues on who'll be active Sunday and Crocker annd Hebert were listed as questionable. Wide receiver Chad Ochocinco (knee) surfaced on the injury report Friday, was limited and is probable. Cornerback Morgan Trent (knee) went full go for the first time this week and is probable.

For the Vikings, quarterback Brett Favre also surfaced on the injury report Friday as limited in practice because of a "Coach's decision," but was listed as probable. His rookie sensation wide receiver Percy Harvin didn't practice Friday and missed all week of practice and was listed as questionable. Starting safety Tyrell Johnson (concussion) is doubtful after not practicing this week and cornerback Antoine Winfield, who has missed the last several games with a foot injury was limited and listed questionable.  

» Lewis met the media Friday after practice on the heels of a stretch in which the offense has scored just four touchdowns in the last 19 quarters. Or, ever since they jumped on Baltimore, 14-0, in the first quarter back on Nov. 8. Faced with questions about how the passing game has a) not been opened up, or b) been ineffective, Lewis believes defenses have taken away the long ball.

So the question seems not to be, "Will they be able to throw it when they need to?" but rather, "When defenses put eight in the box, will they be able to use the pass to take advantage?" And for the moment, he is quite content to have quarterback Carson Palmer manage the game, as they say.

"We don't get a lot of opportunities to go down the field because people play us over the top. That's one of the reasons we've run the ball as well as we have this season," Lewis said. "People don't want to get beat by one play against us very often. ... Right now, no one is willing to give us the looks to get the ball there.

"I think Carson has done a good for the most part not forcing the ball. He had one last week for an interception. I want him to play within himself and to do the things we needed to be successful offensively. To continue to move the ball down the field and we'll be even better is when we get inside the 30 and 20, you have to score touchdowns. Chad caught passes for (137 yards) last week and had one called back. The (game) before that we had the same thing. Those things are there. Hopefully we keep doing them and don't have a penalty that makes us go sideways there."

Lewis would like to have the red-zone touchdown passes that were dropped by wide receiver Maurice Purify two weeks ago and tight end Daniel Coast last Sunday. The extra eight points would give them nearly 22 points per game and Palmer would have 18 TDs, two behind Tom Brady and Eli Manning and two ahead of Donovan McNabb and "we wouldn't be talking about (the offense)," Lewis said.

The sense is Lewis is excited about this one and he thinks the players, are too.

"We'll have a hell of a time come Sunday," Lewis said.  "It's going to be fun. It's going to be a good game. We'll play football our way. Which has been pretty good." 

» Before the Bengals practiced Friday inside Paul Brown Stadium a company of 85 U.S. Army soldiers from Ft. Knox, Ky., ran the stadium steps as a team-building exercise. Capt. Dan Leard led his company in a training session designed to get them back in shape for another deployment in nine to 15 months. All the soldiers have served in Afghanistan and Leard has also served in Iraq.

"We ran half of the lower bowl and one half of the upper," Leard said. "The field was also open and we got sprints in as well. It was a good cross training workout for the lower body and that's what we wanted."

The company is in between assignments and along with their families have recently been transferred from Ft. Hood, Tex., to Ft. Knox. Head coach Marvin Lewis huddled up his team just before practice and introduced it to the soldiers.

"Marvin's always been great about expressing appreciation for what we do," Leard said. "And we appreciate the NFL. It gives us a feeling of home when we can watch it for a couple of hours. It is extremely popular with our guys over there. They'll sacrifice a couple of hours of sleep when they haven't slept in a couple of days to watch a game."

After checking out their cardio load, Lewis said he continues to admire their heart.

"Their dedication, their service and their sacrifice for our country is incredible," Lewis said. "As I've told our players many times, we do use their whole teamwork theme as a parallel, but it's really not fair."

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