For all those in the inactive pools, Friday's injury report from Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis may give you a pretty good lead with running back Joe Mixon (knee) and rookie center Billy Price (foot) ruled out and right end Michael Johnson (knee) and linebacker Preston Brown (ankle) deemed questionable for Sunday's game (1 p.m.-Cincinnati's Channel 12) in Carolina.
Lewis didn't elaborate after Friday's walk-through, but hinted that Brown may be a game-time decision. The other big call he has to make is if running back Thomas Rawls, signed on Wednesday, is active or not. Given that Giovani Bernard and rookie Mark Walton are the only healthy backs, that would seem to be in the affirmative. But, as Lewis would say, "Time will tell."
Brown and Johnson are tough outs. Brown missed his first NFL game a week ago Thursday night after 65 straight. Johnson, who on Thursday night passed Ross Browner with the fifth most games ever on the Bengals defensive line with 128, has missed just four games, two in Tampa with an injured ankle in 2014 and two in Cincinnati because of concussions, one in 2013 and one last season.
Mixon keeps getting closer and closer, though. Six days after a knee scope Friday he was on the field with rehab chief Nick Cosgray, a sure sign he's progressing. Cosgray had him jogging through squares on the sidelines and he didn't seem to be favoring anything.
WATCHING HUE: Since it was a win by another AFC North team, Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton couldn't be all that happy for his old offensive coordinator. Dalton didn't see much of Thursday night's win for Browns head coach Hue Jackson that broke the 19-game winless skein, but he did see the 21-17 final score over the Jets.
"It would have been better for us if they didn't win, but Hue's been through a lot," Dalton said Friday morning. "I guess there's satisfaction for him to get that off his chest. But all things being equal, it's better for us they don't win."
Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis, who hired Jackson twice in Cincinnati for four different jobs on both sides of the ball, was happy for his old friend. Even though the Browns crawled a half-game closer to the 2-0 Bengals at 1-1-1. And there was no 5 a.m. phone call like there had been from up there after a tough one.
"I feel good for Hue. I talked to him yesterday afternoon," said Lewis, who texted him after it was over. "I was hoping he was asleep. Maybe he wasn't asleep."
It looks like the Browns found a quarterback in Baker Mayfield. When the clubs meet Nov. 25 in a 1 p.m. game at Paul Brown Stadium, he'll be the Browns' 10th different starting quarterback to face Dalton in Dalton's 14th start against Cleveland. He's 2-0 vs. DeShone Kizer, Johnny Manziel and Colt McCoy and 1-0 vs. Jason Campbell, Austin Davis, Cody Kessler and Robert Griffin III. He's 0-2 vs. Brian Hoyer and 1-1 vs. Brandon Weeden for an 11-3 record.
"I think they're a better team than they've been," Dalton said and Lewis agreed.
"They're a much better team. A lot of talent there," Lewis said. "They got down in the game and just kept playing and came back and won. Baker came in and did a great job. He threw the ball on time and was accurate with it. He never really put the ball in jeopardy."
Mayfield figures to become the 19th different starting quarterback facing Lewis in his 31st game against the Browns. The record is 22-8 with Hoyer and Derrick Anderson getting him twice and Weeden, Tim Couch, Jeff Garcia and Seneca Wallace once each.
NO BASH: Sunday's game in Carolina falls on Lewis' 60th birthday and on Friday Lewis admitted he could care less. He says it's always been in the blur of football season. No party. Nothing. "Just another day. I'm really not a big birthday person. Some people are. I just don't have that gene. Everybody's got one." Jay Morrison of The Athletic tweeted Lewis is 2-3 on his birthday in college and the pros. Make that 3-3 because Lewis says the only one he remembers is in high school because his girlfriend gave him a surprise party after a win.
"It's lucky we won it. They literally surprised me. Someone in the locker room said something about coming to my house," Lewis said. "That was an oddity right there. After a football game I don't like too many people."
Maybe it's because it doesn't always go well. Two years before he became head coach of the Bengals, his 43rd was in Cincinnati and it turned out to be a bummer when the Bengals won, 21-10, even though the Ravens defense he coordinated allowed just 203 yards. In '07 in Seattle the Bengals blew a 21-17 lead in the final 2:43 in a 24-21 loss, but five years later they won in Washington when wide receiver Mohamed Sanu got them on the board on the first snap, floating a 73-yard TD pass to wide receiver A.J. Green out of the Wild Cat to get them ahead in a 38-31 win.
Lewis shares Sept. 23, place of birth and high school with long-time NFL head coach Marty Schottenheimer. They met twice and split when Marty Ball was in San Diego. Lewis also shares Sept. 23 with Ravens head coach John Harbaugh, a guy he leads, 12-9. They met in the Ultimate Birthday Game that turned out to be Harbaugh's NFL debut on Sept. 7, 2008 in Baltimore. That was Bengals founder Paul Brown's 100th birthday and the Ravens won, 17-10.
But don't tell Lewis.