It looks like the Bengals were poised to make a little history Saturday when they elevated punter Drue Chrisman from the practice squad for Sunday's game (4:25 p.m.-Cincinnati's Local 12) in Pittsburgh.
That puts Chrisman on track to make his NFL debut at Acrisure Stadium that would end Bengals all-time punting leader Kevin Huber's streak of 138 straight games. Huber, 37, who holds the club record with 216 games played, has struggled after fending off Chrisman in a training camp battle. Huber, a former Pro Bowler, has been philosophical about a season that finds him next-to-last in NFL net punting.
After Thursday's practice he waxed nostalgically about the first game he played in Pittsburgh when he was a huge factor in the War of 18-12 win in 2009 that featured only one touchdown on Bernard Scott's kick return in a special teams special. On the Bengals' last play of the third quarter, after his first punt was erased for delay of game, Huber drilled an even better punt out of his own end zone to midfield, defying special teams coordinator Darrin Simmons' concerns of re-kicks.
"It's no secret to anybody. I haven't punted well in a game. I haven't been transferring over what I've been doing in practice and pregame to the game," Huber said earlier this week. "So, when I talk to people, practice and pregame is like I'm a driving game scratch golfer. Then I get in the game and I'm trying to tee off No. 1 at Augusta as a 20 handicap. It's just a little disconnect right now between practice and the game and it's been tough. It hasn't been a great year so far. It's just something I've been trying to work with."
Chrisman, in his second season out of Ohio State, has made all the trips since losing the close duel and in the last month Simmons has suited him up for pregame workouts home and away.
"I've been punting every other day. So if your number is called on Sunday, it's not a big change in the body," Chrisman said Friday. "It's really like any other week. If somebody lands on his ankle wrong, all of a sudden you have to be ready to go on Sunday."
With long snapper Clark Harris on injured reserve, this could be the first Bengals game since Dec. 28, 2008 in the season finale in which Huber or Harris doesn't play.
As expected Saturday, the Bengals also activated nose tackle D.J. Reader and elevated wide receiver Trenton Irwin from the practice squad.