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Notes: Andre Smith returns; No. 1 scoring defense; Palmer phones it in


The Bengals headed indoors to practice under the University of Cincinnati bubble Wednesday and welcomed back right tackle Andre Smith for the first time since he suffered a concussion in the Nov.1 win in Pittsburgh and was limited.

Smith missed the last two games, so he'll likely be ready for Sunday's game (8:30 p.m.-Cincinnati's Channel 5) in Arizona. Not working was cornerback Adam Jones (foot) and defensive tackle Pat Sims (knee). Left tackle Andrew Whitworth took his weekly veteran's day off and watched the offensive line warm up with individual drills.

Cornerback Leon Hall went limited for his vet day. It looks like WILL backer Vontaze Burifct (knee) is going to practice limited again this week and play, which he did last week when he played 56 percent of Monday night's snaps.  Left end Carlos Dunlap (shoulder) and safety Shawn Williams (ankle) were also limited.

Three starters didn't make it to the gate for Arizona's Wednesday practice, wide receiver Michael Floyd (hamstring), left guard Mike Iupati (neck/concussion), and right guard Jonathan Cooper (knee). Center Lyle Sendlein (shoulder), along with wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald (ankle) and strong safety Rashad Johnson (ribs) were limited.

SLANTS AND SCREENS: Some Bengals didn't know when they reported back to work Wednesday after Monday's 10-6 loss to Houston that they're working for the NFL's No. 1 scoring defense.

"Are we? That's pretty sweet," said WILL backer Vontaze Burfict, who credited defensive coordinator Paul Guenther.

The Bengals are pace to allow 270 points, the fewest ever for a 16-game schedule and three TDs fewer than the 291 allowed by then defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer and the 2009 team that is the fewest points scored under Marvin Lewis.

And how about this? Zimmer, now the head coach in Minnesota, has the No. 2 scoring defense.

"I love Zim, too, but Paulie G. is on another level," Burfict said. "He schemes up the receivers, the O-Line. He picks up stuff like that so that we can use their weak link to our strong in (pass) protection." . . .

The Bengals offense hasn't been all that smooth in the last three games, when 31 of their 53 points came in one game. There's a theory from some in the locker room that it may stem from playing three games in the last 30 days.

"We were in such a good flow the first eight weeks with 1 o'clock games," said tight end Tyler Eifert, who has three drops Monday. "We were just going about our business, and then we had the bye, and that's not an excuse at all, but you kind of get out of your routine and things like that. We just have to refocus, regather ourselves, and we'll be all right." . . .

The Andy Dalton-J.J. Watt thing is officially dead. Dalton says he overreacted and Watt had no reaction.

"What I did wrong was that I responded to what somebody (in the media) said to me about it. I never even heard (Watt's) interview, so I don't even know the context of what was said. I don't know what he said before or what he said after," said Dalton of the Red Ryder stuff.

"For my part, I shouldn't have reacted how I did without hearing what he said. I was responding to what someone told me he said. From that standpoint, my reaction wasn't warranted. I still haven't seen it, I'm not going to watch, I don't care. I have no ill-will towards J.J. (Watt). There is no feud between me and him. We lost the game, he said what he said, and we are moving on. It's in the past now."

Watt didn't fold to the Jets media, according to "You're just trying to get something to quote me on, and I'm not going to give it to you," Watt said. "Nice try. New York. New York media. You guys are persistent. I love it."

PALMER CHECKS IN: Carson Palmer phoned it in.


Palmer, the former Bengals quarterback who has emerged this season as an MVP candidate in Arizona, dialed the phone himself for Wednesday's conference call with the Cincinnati media.

"I think Mark Dalton is eating lunch," Palmer said of the Cardinals PR chief.

A few talking points:

-He admitted this one is a big one for him because he played in Cincy:

"It always is when you play against a former team. It's not just another game. I'm not going to bore you with that. There's definitely a lot on this one, for me in particular."

 -While the Arizona secondary is leading the league with 14 picks, Palmer has taken note of the Bengals DBs.

"They've got two great cover corners. Adam (Jones) is having as good a year as anyone. (Dre) Kirkpatrick is coming on . . . And Leon (Hall) has been the best nickel in the game for a while."

-Palmer has also taken note of the other Dalton in this game, his Bengals successor, Andy Dalton. He's seen him plenty on tape because the Bengals and Cards have had four common opponents.

"He's a better athlete than people give him credit. He makes all the throws. He made some 'wow,' throws in the Baltimore game."


Cincinnati Bengals host practice at the University of Cincinnati 11/18/2015

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