BENGALS GAMEDAY: Photos, analysis, video highlights, stats* * *
Posted: 6 a.m.
AndersonATLANTA - Willie Anderson and Levi Jones are back together, so the Bengals tackle situation doesn't seem as desperate as maybe it seemed sometime in the third quarter of Monday night's 24-19 loss to the Falcons.
Jones couldn't believe he played as much as he did at left tackle in his season debut after receiving just eight live snaps during the week and felt encouraged about his knee after getting some work against Pro Bowl end John Abraham.
And after getting a good workout on the field in the pregame, Anderson (foot) is now scheduled to get his first practice snaps of the year at right tackle Wednesday and game snaps in Friday's preseason finale against the Colts at Paul Brown Stadium as the four-time Pro Bowler looks to extend his consecutive starts streak to 113 in the Sept. 10 opener against the Ravens.
Certainly head coach Marvin Lewis seemed downright bouncy about it even though his quarterbacks got sacked four times (three times by ends) and running back Rudi Johnson got just three yards per his 12 remaining carries after his first run of 33 yards.
Falcons first-rounder Jaamal Anderson, working at left end against right tackle Scott Kooistra much of the evening, had two sacks and got a chance to go against Andrew Whitworth in the first series of the second half when Whitworth moved from left tackle to play right tackle for the first time ever in a game.
While working at left for much of the first half against Abraham, Whitworth had an uncharacteristic two false starts.
"It was good work; they had some good rushers," Lewis said. "(Jones) got fastballs right away. He didn't have to go to Triple A. He went up to the majors. That's a good thing. Levi's a pro and a guy we're confident in. There were some flinches. That's good stuff. We get used to playing indoors."
Jones admitted he's a bit befuddled how the Bengals are using him because he indicated he feels like he's ready to play, yet he was surprised he didn't practice very much during three days last week.
Jones "I haven't played in a year. I wasn't expecting that much. They should have given me more reps," Jones said. "I feel good. I felt good all week."
It appeared that former Bengals linebacker Marcus Wilkins got by him on the way to breaking up a pass by backup quarterback Doug Johnson in the third quarter, but Jones thought that play was more a product of the scheme rather than anything else and wouldn't have usually happened.
What also doesn't usually happen is Whitworth making two false starts, something he chalked up to going on a silent count so much for the first time this season.
"That was a good experience; first time in a dome (this season)," Whitworth said. "I think we haven't gotten a lot of silent work going off ball movement. As the season gets going, we'll get used to (center Eric) Ghiaciuc's silent count. I think it's a matter of getting more coordinated with Ghiaciuc on when he's going to snap the ball."
Whitworth admitted it was "a little awkward" playing on the right side but he also said "it was fun," and the toughest part "was figuring out where I sat on the bench."
With Jones also getting some work at right tackle in practice, it shows how versatile the O-line is, and how committed the club is to leaving Stacy Andrews at left guard if Anderson can't go or Kooistra goes down.
But it looks like Anderson is joining his bookend in Jones on Wednesday.
"I hope he gets more (work) than I got," Jones said with a smile.
"Need I say more?" Rudi Johnson asked. "We all know what he means to us."
NdukweWELCOME MOMENT: Well, rookie safety Chinedum Ndukwe has had his Welcome to the NFL Moment. In fact, he had about three of them Monday night in a game the secondary had a tough game all the way around. The three Falcons quarterbacks completed 22 of 32 passes, and yet no Bengals cornerback had a pass defensed and the safeties only had one, by free safety Madieu Williams.
Called off the bench when strong safety Dexter Jackson suffered a concussion tackling tight end Alge Crumpler in the second series of the game, Ndukwe was in the deep part of the field when quarterback Joey Harrington hit wide receiver Adam Jennings running past cornerback Deltha O'Neal on a 28-yard touchdown pass for the first score of the game.
Then Ndukwe tried to corral running back Jerious Norwood with a high tackle on the sidelines and ended up sitting and watching Norwood duck it for a 12-yard touchdown catch.
And somewhere in there he got a nice shiner under his right eye.
"On a kickoff I got blasted," said Ndukwe, who has had a fine preseason and is seen as a roster lock. "It brings you back down a level. I'm not one to get a big head, but you're never there. I'm not there yet. I still got a ton of work to do. It shows. It's the pros, not college.
"Guys don't go down with arms tackles in the pros. I just have to get mentally right and run through people. I was in position, but I didn't finish. I've got to bring my feet."
Ndukwe said the first touchdown came on Cover Two, a zone defense.
"There were two guys streaking down the middle of the field. I was cheating to the middle and he threw it to the outside," he said. "I need to get better depth. I need to get better position next time."
He won't have long to wait. Jackson figures not to play Friday.
Lewis isn't happy with the coverage, but wouldn't single out one problem such as the pass rush.
"It's not good enough," Lewis said. "It's a combination."
GrahamGRAHAM HURTING: Kicker Shayne Graham probably won't play either Friday with a hip pointer that drove him from the game when he helped cover Allen Rossum's 59-yard kick return in the middle of the second quarter.
Graham agreed with Lewis that he may have been able to return if it had been a regular-season game, but Lewis wouldn't say if the Bengals would sign another kicker for Friday. Graham indicated he doesn't think it's serious or that it would keep him out of the Sept. 10 opener. He said he's not scheduled to undergo an MRI, but he also said, "All they want me to do is tell them how I feel in the morning."
Lewis said if it had been the regular season, punter Kyle Larson would have kicked extra points but he figured it was a good time to put his quarterbacks in two-point situations. Both had a shot and missed.
Graham spent the last two minutes of the game in street clothes watching the game in a Georgia Dome hallway and showed no discomfort.