Drue Chrisman, who grew up Bengal across the line in Indiana at Lawrenceburg and kicking for Cincinnati's LaSalle High School, saw that the Bengals' next game has been flexed to 4:25 p.m. on Nov. 20 in Pittsburgh.
The time doesn't matter. "We'd play in a parking lot," Chrisman says. But the locale caught his eye as a potential spot for an NFL debut.
"If that's how it works out," said Chrisman as he headed out for the bye, "that would be awesome."
The Bengals broke after Tuesday's walk-through on the Paycor Stadium field, leaving the coaches to work Wednesday before they break, too. When they return on Monday to prep for the Steelers, special teams coordinator Darrin Simmons could promote Chrisman from the practice squad for that first NFL game in place of slumping 14-year vet Kevin Huber.
Simmons says it's under discussion and Chrisman, 25, in his second season out of Ohio State, says he'll just keep doing what he's doing. Politely leaving his lunch for an interview, Chrisman nodded at his tablemate, rookie long snapper Cal Adomitis.
"Every week I prepare like I'm going to start because you never know. Look at Cal," said Chrisman of Adomitis' journey from the practice squad to playing in the last eight games in the wake of the season-ending injury to 14-year snapper Clark Harris.
"In week one he didn't know he was going to be starting week two. You have to be ready with any decision they make."
With Harris on injured reserve, the Nov. 20 game could be the first Bengals game since Dec. 28, 2008 that at least one of the Huber-Harris tandem didn't play. During the 2008 finale at Paycor Stadium, the Bengals beat the Chiefs, 16-6, with Brad St. Louis snapping to Kyle Larson.
Huber has not only punted in 138 straight games, but Chrisman says he's been generous about giving his knowledge from his Bengals-record 216 games.
"He's been Kevin ever since day one," Chrisman said. "He's been helpful with everything I need. Last year I was here off and on. But this year, to be working every day with him and Darrin has been a big help."
There wasn't much to choose between Chrisman and Huber during their training competition and, Simmons said, Chrisman improved so much on his holding that the final call didn't come down to that and it won't have a bearing on the upcoming decision.
On Tuesday, Chrisman said not getting the job may have helped him iron it out even more.
"I was able to tweak some things, change up some things," Chrisman said. "I shortened up my steps. I was getting a little long in the preseason. Getting long doesn't necessarily mean getting longer and higher punts. Usually more compact is better as you explode off the ground a lit bit."
Along with his consistency and hang time, Chrisman says he's improved his ball handling by cutting down his seconds from catching the ball to putting it on his foot. And he says when Simmons approached him before the Atlanta game at Paycor two weeks ago to see if he wanted to suit up and go through pregame, he was all for it and he's done it before the last three games.
"It's getting a routine. If they ever need me to go in, make sure the body is used to that kind of routine on Sundays. You get some good game day conditions and even though you're not playing, you get a little bit of that adrenaline flowing suiting up and getting ready to play."
Huber has missed only three games in his career and that was because the Steelers broke his jaw in a 2013 Sunday night game Pittsburgh. Chrisman knows it as "The Jaw Game." If he gets the call, he hopes to replicate Huber's approach and not the adversity.
"Kevin is calm and collected. I don't when that happened, if it was year one or year 14," Chrisman said. "But he's the same every day. Never too high, never too low. That's very valuable to have at that position."
READER SOUNDS CLOSE: The Bengals top 12 defensive ranking looks to have survived the huge absence of nose tackle D.J. Reader, playing at a Pro Bowl level when he went down with a knee injury Sept. 25 in New York. On Tuesday, defensive coordinator Lou Anarumo sounded optimistic about soon. Maybe Pittsburgh.
"I think he's on track. I saw him running around out there this morning and looking good so hopefully it'll stay trending that way and just give us a great lift when he gets back," Anarumo said. "He's really really hard to block one-on-one in the run game and gives you more rush than you would think from a guy his size and then just his leadership out there on the field. He's a dominating force."
MORE LOU: Sunday may have been the most impressive performance of the 58 games Anarumo has run the Bengals defense. Down Reader and his backup, as well as three of his top four cornerbacks, Anarumo's "Staten Island Stew," opened the game with three three-and-outs and finished the half with two interceptions while holding Carolina to nine yards passing and zero points while not allowing them past the 50.
No, Anarumo said. He never remembers being up 35-0 at half.
"We talked about going into the game what the Panthers had done on offense (with) 37 or 38 points against the Falcons and 480 some odd yards," Anarumo said. "The week before, I have the upmost respect for Tampa Bay's defense. (The Panthers) put up almost 400 on them and 21 points. We knew we would have our hands full. The fact that we came out, Zac (Taylor) had a great team meeting Saturday night letting everyone know we got to start fast and put these guys away early. That was the theme. Everybody responded well."
APPLE OF HIS EYE: Maybe no one responded better than cornerback Eli Apple. Two weeks ago the Super Bowl starter found himself in a rotation with rookie Cam Taylor-Britt. Last week in Cleveland he was out with a hamstring injury. When No. 1 cornerback Chidobe Awuzie was lost for the year in Cleveland, Apple was again in the starting lineup on Sunday and according to Pro Football Focus was their highest-graded cornerback and fourth best player on defense.
"Eli did well. He had that route that he knocked down early in the game, for a corner that's playing man-to-man, those overs or crossing routes are the hardest things they have to do, and he punched it away like it was nobody's business," Anarumo said.
"He had a 'go,' ball later in the game that he was in great position for and part of the reason Jessie (Bates III) was able to make his interception was because Eli had clinic Cover-2 technique on that play. Clinic tape. I told him that. I was proud of the way he responded."