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Hobson's Choice: Dre and Quez may get title call


       Cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick may get the starting nod Sunday night.

Hi Geoff. Loved seeing Huber get a pro bowl nod. Really surprising even though he clearly deserves it. That doesn't seem to mean much to the voters. I really hope that Monday nights game shined some light on the injustice. Especially for Adam Jones and Whitworth. Jones showed how lethal he is as both a punt and kick returner. Whitworth continued his mastery of the LT position while the man who is going instead of him got beat like a drum by a guy who is a great player for us in Gilberry, but lets face it, he's no Demarcus Ware  The man that big Whit blanked as per his usual routine. Oh also, they ran for over 200 yards against the leagues #2 run D!

My question though is this. With the performance by Kirkpatrick last week and other times throughout the season, could we see him more throughout the post season? Obviously Newman is gonna be a starter as he has been one of the best corners in the league all season and was just ill for the broncos game but Dre certainly seems to have made himself hard to keep off the field hasn't he? I don't know who he would replace in the starting lineup but maybe we see more nickle and dime packages just to get him on the field as one of our best defenders? Also, I was wondering what the Bengals thought about Flowers performance? Johnathan Lee, New York, NY

JONATHAN: You've eloquently made the Pro Bowl cases for Adam Jones and Whit.

Because Newman missed all of practice this week with the flu, it would be no surprise if Kirkpatrick gets the start against the Steelers and plays most of the way. And with Adam Jones also feeling under the weather, you also may very well see a ton of the other first-round backup cornerback Sunday in Darqueze Dennard.

Now, both Newman and Jones should be fine for this week's Wild Card Game if the Bengals don't get the No. 2 seed, so I would expect them to get most of the snaps with Kirkpatrick appearing in some of the sub packages.  But I don't think they go to more nickel and dime packages just to get certain guys on the field. That can back fire on you when you're trying to stop the run.

The bigger question is what are they're going to do with Newman next year. Do they re-sign a corner that turns 37 before the opener or do they promote Kirkpatrick? They they'll have the same questions next year at this time when the contracts for Jones and Hall are coming to an end. Monday night was huge for Kirkpatrick as he tries to solidify the trust of the coaches in key situations.

The Bengals are looking for more consistency from Flowers. They like his athleticism, but he's bounced around playing a bunch of different spots as a rookie and he needs time to develop. His 10 snaps last week came pretty much in the base defense and they did well vs. the run, so that's a good sign. But it's too early in his career to say for sure where he ends up and for how long.

No question for you today Geoff, just a favor. Please let Andrew Whitworth know that he is appreciated by Bengals fans even if the people voting in the annual NFL popularity contest (Pro Bowl) won't give him any respect. I for one would take him every time over Clady and Thomas and I would bet Andy Dalton would agree. WHO DEY! Rob G., Independence, KY

ROB: Consider it done.

It's great to see the Bengals in the playoffs for the 4th straight year. Hopefully this is the year they can advance and make a serious run. My question concerns Mohammed Sanu. His production in the last several games has dropped precipitously. Is he hurting or are they reducing his role in the game plan or is he just not playing as well as he was earlier this year? Mark Massarella, New Albany, OH

MARK: His numbers were going to go down when A.J. Green came back, but, you're right, he's virtually disappeared the last month compared to his MVP run in the first half of the season.  He did have a pretty good road trip and came up with huge third-down catches in Houston and Tampa Bay.

Since then I think it's been a combination of things for his lack production. After the Steelers couldn't cover Green, it looked like quarterback Andy Dalton tried to force it to him the next week in Cleveland and he by passed a wide-open Sanu a couple of times. Plus, Sanu has had some drops lately and that would make his numbers look a little bit different. The passing game has been a bit off the last couple of weeks, for whatever reason, and as important as it is to get Green involved early, it would be nice to get Sanu back where he was. With Green nursing a bruised right bicep, now's the time.

But I also think this. Since the Pittsburgh game, it is quite clear that offensive coordinator Hue Jackson is not going to throw away the AFC North title. He's only going to throw it as much as he has to, so everybody's targets but Green's are going to go down. With the playoffs here, it seems to me they'll throw to get ahead and run to win. For Bengals fans who have watched the Steelers win Super Bowls with that style, that must be a welcome sign.

What a great win for the Bengals vs. last year's AFC Champs! Felt good to win one in Primetime. I love that we are running the ball, but I think just a little more balance would take us further in the playoffs. Why have Mohamed Sanu's targets gone down. Is it Sanu or just less pass opportunities when running the ball. Do you think if Dalton had all his weapons healthy (adding Eifert/Marvin Jones) the passing game would be more productive & efficient? Especially 10 yards down the field? Beau Christopher, Los Angeles, CA

BEAU: The loss of Jones and Eifert can't be underestimated in the vertical passing game. That's a total of 12 TD catches from last season just zapped from this year's stats. This year, the running game hasn't been a luxury, it's been a necessity. And considering how much Jackson built his off-season plan around the double tight-end sets of Eifert and Gresham, the fact they're fifth in rushing and 15th in scoring is a tribute to him and his staff.

I got used to deep ball accuracy and surprisingly open receivers, but against Cleveland the passing game was ugly. Against Denver? It was a lot of screens and dumpoffs. Is the passing game short on maintenance during practice? Or did we just face two really great secondaries? Jeff Huit, Pasadena, CA

JEFF: No question it has been ugly and, like I say, I think Dalton tried to force it in Cleveland. But there's no mystery about what happened against Denver and I goes back to the last question. No Green, no Jones, no Eifert. Those are arguably your three top targets. That's 23 TD catches from last season gone from the fourth snap of the game against the AFC champs and a top five defense. To get 37 points shows how dominant they were on special teams.

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