Updated: 5:10 p.m.
Bengals quarterback Carson Palmer didn't practice with a hip injury Thursday, but head coach Marvin Lewis said he expects him to play Sunday against Miami.
TV EXTENSION: The NFL on Thursday extended by 24 hours the deadline by which a sellout must be reached to permit local television coverage of Sunday's 1 p.m. Bengals game vs. Miami at Paul Brown Stadium. At least in Cincinnati, that's been a good sign that a sellout is next.
Games normally must be sold out 72 hours prior to kickoff for lifting of the local TV blackout, but the deadline for this week has been shortened to 48 hours, giving the club until 1 p.m. tomorrow (Friday).
"The team is hoping for strong sales over the next 24-hour period to help lift the blackout," said Andrew Brown, manager of ticket sales. "We have less than 2000 seats remaining and sales have been steady, but we can use a strong finish to the week. The weather looks great for Sunday, and we hope fans will decide that Paul Brown Stadium will be the perfect place to enjoy it."
The Bengals have sold out their last 55 consecutive regular-season and postseason games, a franchise-record streak.
If the game is sold out by 1 p.m. Friday, it will be televised live in the Bengals home market on CBS affiliates WKRC-TV (Channel 12) in Cincinnati, WHIO-TV (Channel 7) in Dayton and WKYT-TV (Channel 27) in Lexington, Ky.
To purchase tickets for Miami, fans may call the Bengals Ticket Hotline at 866-621-TDTD (8383) or click here.
OFFENSIVE ID: After struggling to find an offensive identity all season, the Bengals seem to have found it in the fast-paced, three-wide set that sprung them to the 2005 AFC North title and not the one last season. At least that's what left tackle Andrew Whitworth thinks.
Whitworth was a rookie the last time the Bengals rolled up more yards in three straight games. The Bengals have lost their last three games, but the 1,240 yards are their most in three games since they went 2-1 Nov. 12-26, 2006 with 1,318 in games against San Diego (loss), New Orleans (win) and Cleveland (win).
"Offensively, we're a different football team than we were last year and we had to find ourselves," said Whitworth before Thursday's practice. "I think we're well on our way in a groove we're comfortable in.
"Yeah, I think that you feel comfortable enough with some of the great guys that can catch the football and do good things with it and, honestly, we have a line we can move people and run the ball in a one-back set ... it's a different style, faster pace. Less big, brute running people over. Using skill guys and different players we want to get their hands on the ball and make plays. So it's just a little different where last year we were handing it off every play and going for short third downs. This year it's a different style."
TIRED ROOK: Rookie cornerback Brandon Ghee figures he lost four pounds as one of only two cornerbacks healthy enough to suit up for Wednesday's practice. He joined practice-squadder Rico Murray while practice squad wide receiver Shay Hodge was pressed into service on some plays at corner. The Bengals got a little bit of help Thursday with the return of one starting corner in Johnathan Joseph (ankle), but were still missing the other starter and third cornerback, Leon Hall (hamstring) and Morgan Trent (knee). Trent says he's not sure if he'll go. Safety Chinedum Ndukwe was also out for the second straight day, but backup WILL linebacker Brandon Johnson (knee) was on the field after missing Wednesday.
RED ZONE: Whitworth's take on the red-zone problems (tied for 24th in the NFL with TDs on eight of 20 trips) is tied to the change in style the Bengals use to get into the red zone. The three-receiver set, no-huddle gets them there, but they have to go to tighter formations in the red area.
"That's probably it. You look at teams like Indy and they drive the length of the field and they get down there and it takes one heroic play to get in there," he said. "Fades. Different things. It's hard to change that pace when you get in there. Now all of a sudden the safeties are a factor in the run game and the pass game. It just makes it tougher."
But, the Bengals were also bad in the red zone the last eight games last year when they played the slow-down style. It gets back to one thing:
"We have to run the ball more efficiently in there," Whitworth said.
Whitworth spent some time last week reviewing tape with right tackle Andre Smith as they got ready for Smith's first full NFL game. While Falcons sack ace John Abraham lined up mainly over Whitworth last Sunday, Whitworth expects six-sack man Cameron Wake to line up more often than not over Smith. And while the 6-3, 250-pound Wake is built a lot like Abraham, he's more of a physical rusher with an endless motor that doesn't quit until the whistle. Both Whitworth and Smith will be getting their first look at Wake, an outside backer in a 3-4.
"I talked to (Smith) about some things and it seemed to help him," said Whitworth, who was playing Abraham for the second time. "It was good to see him in there battling last week. This will be another good test for both of us. He hasn't played a lot of live snaps. This is like a rookie year for him facing all these rushers. When you face guys, you have to learn them. As he got more comfortable, he played better and better as the game went on and this guy will be another test for him."
Both Smith and Whitworth allowed an Abraham sack, but they came in the final 1:54 with the Falcons up 15. Whitworth is still heated he gave up his on the last play.
"Whenever you battle a guy like that as good all day ... you get in that scenario, that's where those guys get their sacks," Whitworth said. "Last second, game-over type sack. Those are tough. They always tick you off. But you've got to realize you played a great player."
Whitworth was giving Abraham a hard time because he "tapped out" a few times to get breathers while Whitworth and Smith took every snap.
"I was having a good time with him," he said. "I felt like I blocked him has good as anyone I'd seen block him on film, or better."
Whitworth also weighed in on Carson Palmer's animation on the sidelines Sunday as he did some chewing out.
"I want to see Carson let it loose sometimes," he said. "Because he is so calm and collected and holds things together so well. I like seeing him do it whether it's good or bad or he should have said it or it shouldn't have been said. Sometime just to see people that take so much let it out, that take so much. He's a guy that stands up. He's a leader. He takes the brunt of things. For him to speak out and let it be known how much it means to him, that's good. It lets guys know how serious it is."