Andre Smith (right) works out with Dermontti Dawson earlier this month at Georgetown College. (AP photo)
Updated: 2:40 p.m.
Marvin Lewis has ruled out defensive end Robert Geathers (foot) and fullback Fui Vakapuna (shoulder) for Friday's 8 p.m. preseason game against the Eagles but it appears that center Kyle Cook (ankle) and linebacker/fullback Dan Skuta (ankle) are good to go.
But maybe right tackle Andre Smith is going to have to play, ready or not, against the Eagles even though he's only going to have two practices under his belt all year. Anthony Collins, who backs up both tackle spots, wasn't on the field Wednesday morning and he was seen later in the locker room on crutches. With rookie Andrew Mitchell (knee) also ruled out for Friday, that left only Smith and Gabriel Manns working at tackle behind starters Andrew Whitworth and Dennis Roland.
Collins would be a tough guy to lose for any length of time since he can play virtually every spot but center. Lewis didn't mention Collins specifically at a Wednesday morning news conference before practice on the Paul Brown Stadium practice fields, but he did say he has to see how some injured players respond on Friday.
Guys who definitely didn't practice because of injury besides Geathers and Vakapuna were right end Antwan Odom (unknown), wide receiver Maurice Purify (tendinitis), and linebacker Roddrick Muckelroy (hamstring).
Cornerback Adam Jones, who left Sunday's game with a headache, returned to practice. So did cornerback Brandon Ghee (hamstring) and with safety Chris Crocker (ankle) back in the mix, the secondary looks healthy.
Also back working was rookie right guard Otis Hudson after he was overcome by heat in Georgetown last Thursday. Linebacker Rashad Jeanty (leg), not yet cleared, returned from his Florida rehab that mirrored the training camp dates earlier this week and was on the field for the second straight day.
Although Smith said he felt rusty with his technique after Tuesday's practice, Lewis said he and offensive line coach Paul Alexander disagreed. Lewis said while they were asked not to put Smith through footwork drills in the spring as he recovered from his broken foot, they were able to work extensively on it during training camp with the help of former Steelers Pro Bowl center Dermontti Dawson.
"I think that was useful for him on and off the field," Lewis said.
Smith, 23, born the year Dawson started his 13-year NFL career that figures to land him in the Pro Football Hall of Fame one day, has stuck up an easy rapport with the 45-year-old. Not hard to do since Dawson, an NFL minority program coaching intern, is regarded as one of the great guys of the game.
"He means a great deal to me. He's a great guy to have on your team," Smith said after Wednesday's practice. "I just knew him as an extremely athletic offensive lineman."
And he still is. Just ask Smith. When Dawson goes on the field, he often dons gloves and cleats as if he's still playing. During training camp at Georgetown College when Smith was rehabbing his broken foot and getting into condition, Dawson would take him aside for individual work 30 minutes before practice. One time he blew past Smith in a drill.
"He's got some pass rush moves. He kind of caught me off guard," Smith said. "I wasn't expecting that from him.
"We did a little bit of everything (in the workouts). Running plays, getting back to the technique aspect, not so much getting back into shape. He's been around a lot of great guys. We talk more often than not about football and life and things you have to do be successful. He told me how hard he had to work to get to where he was."
Lewis said the hope is that Mike Nugent (groin), pulled back after kicking two extra points last Sunday, is going to get some field-goal tries Friday. Nugent said his groin tightened up at halftime and he didn't go back to kick, but he's going to try and do it Friday as he attempts to balance his health with catching up with Dave Rayner's 4-for-5 last Sunday.
"You don't want to put anying bad on tape," Nugent said.
Lewis wouldn't get specific about how long his first teams would play. He said that some players would play more than last week, when quarterback Carson Palmer's offense played until the halfway point of the second quarter. So that could point to an entire half for the ones.
Certainly Lewis thinks the always-sound Eagles provide a good early challenge on both sides of the ball even though the untried Kevin Kolb is replacing franchise quarterback Donovan McNabb. In vintage Andy Reid fashion, the Eagles finished a steel-belted 11th on offense and 12th on defense in last season's NFL rankings.
"(The Eagles) have a 4-3 defense with a little bit more of some different pressures," Lewis said. "Defensively (for the Bengals), they have a quick throwing team with guys that do a great job of running after the catch and vertical guys down the field, so a pretty well-rounded offense. It's a good game to play as far as the recognition of what is going to happen during the game."