Updated: 12:05 p.m.
The Bengals head to San Diego on Friday, a day earlier than usual as they try to cobble together a rarity in Sunday's game (4:25 p.m.-Cincinnati's Channel 12) with a third straight win on the West Coast. In games played in California and Seattle, the Bengals are 14-34 in their lifetime, but the Green-Dalton crew is 2-0 after last year's 20-13 win in San Diego and the 2011 victory in Seattle.
Ever since the Bengals lost the first game in franchise history in San Diego on Sept. 6, 1968, it's been a tough venue. They're 6-10 out there, but head coach Marvin Lewis ended a four-game, 13-year slide when the Bengals broke through in a 2003 win. Lewis is 2-1 at Qualcomm Stadium, the only Bengals coach with two wins in San Diego beside Paul Brown's 2-2 record in the town where he kept his winter's residence.
As Lewis says, a West Coast trip nowadays isn't like it was 40 years ago.
"We want to go on Friday to get acclimated as much as we can to the difference in time. It's like a 4:00 game for us. Put our mindset that way, but I think in modern-day travel there's not much to be made out of it," he said this week. "The good thing this time is, we are coming off the (bye). We have been able to point to this throughout. If it was earlier in the year, you talk to guys more about hydration and things like that – we are still a little bit. Make sure we get our rest and our sleep early in the week as we get there."
The Bengals play in front of the NFL's first local TV blackout of the season. According to reports, the Chargers had more than 5,300 tickets to sell when they made the announcement Thursday.
JONES VS. ALLEN: The game pits two University of California receivers in Bengals sophomore Marvin Jones and Chargers rookie Keenan Allen. Jones, an Orange County native who made his first NFL start at home last year, is looking to regain the touch that brought him six TDs in October. He hasn't been in the end zone since his 50-yarder against the Dolphins on Oct. 31 was negated by a hold. Allen is one of the hottest guys in the league with nine cacthes for 124 yards last week and leads all rookies with 50 catches for 737 yards.
"The more playing time those guys get with Andy (Dalton), the better they're going to get," Chargers coach Mike McCoy said of the young Bengals receivers. "It's like the case here with Keenan. Young players in this league, the more snaps they get, the better they are."
Thanks to last year's game, Jones is now a veteran of the ticket chase after a group of about 30 arrived last year.
"They know to get everything early because you can get them on StubHub for around $20, so they do that," Jones said. "If I get the seats ... they are going to put them in the nosebleed sections."
INJURY PICTURE: Friday's injury report out of San Diego is going to be telling. Several key players have yet to practice this week for the Chargers, such as Hall of Fame tight end Antonio Gates (hamstring), center Nick Hardwick (neck), and wide receiver Eddie Royal (toe, chest). Right tackle King Dunlap (neck) and linebacker Jarret Johnson (hand) were limited Thursday. Johnson has worked this week after undergoing surgery last week and if he plays it's assumed it will be with some sort of cast.
For the Bengals, punter Kevin Huber (kicking ankle) went limited Thursday after sitting out Wednesday, right guard Kevin Zeitler (foot) is going to miss his second straight game after not practicing again Friday. Mike Pollak probably gets another start in his place.
RILEY HONORED: In conjunction with the Freedom Center's look at Sam Freedman's book Breaking the Line, former Bengals cornerback Ken Riley is going to be honored at the Dec. 8 game at Paul Brown Stadium against the Colts. Riley is one of the key figures in the book that traces his 1967 season as the Florida A&M quarterback during a pivotal year in the civil rights movement. Through the eyes of Riley and his coach, Jake Gaither, as well as Grambling coach Eddie Robinson and his quarterback James Harris, Freedman studies how the game and society were reacting to change.
After joining Freedman, Marvin Lewis and Freedom Center executive director C.G. Newsome for a panel discussion Thursday night, Riley goes to midfield Sunday for the coin flip as an honorary captain.
As the man with the fifth-most interceptions of all-time with 65, Riley remains one of the game's best players not in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.