This game against the Cardinals on Saturday (1 p.m.-WLW-700) is rapidly coming down to one big special teams matchup. Not only is the ninth-ranked Bengals punt cover team going up against Patrick Peterson's four return touchdowns, but the interior of the field-goal block team must stop Cardinals defensive end Calais Campbell.
Campbell has three of Arizona's four blocked field goals this season. Peterson has the other one coming off the edge.
"He's big and he's tall, 6-8, 300 pounds, and he's got an ability to get through the line," said Bengals long snapper Clark Harris. "And he's got the instinct to get his hands up at the right time. We don't need to change anything. We just have to tighten up what we do. And we have to be perfect."
That means the Bengals can't let what happen in Pittsburgh happen, when Mike Nugent had his 33-yard field goal blocked up the middle. That's right about where Campbell has been lurking. Special teams coach Darrin Simmons said Campbell has been pretty much coming over guard and tackle.
"One guy takes a step too far, a step too slow, or leans," Harris said. "This week we're focusing on being perfect. If you hold him eight yards from the block point, he won't be able to get there."
FAMILIAR FOE: Cincinnati's Mike McGlynn, playing right guard for the first time in his career, figures to get his second start there Saturday against a big-time load in Cardinals tackle Darnell Dockett. Dockett, a three-time Pro Bowler, has led NFL defensive tackles in sacks twice in his career and while he's got just 2.5 sacks this year, two of them came in the last three games.
McGlynn says he played against Dockett when the Eagles played the Cardinals in 2008, his rookie season. But it won't translate. The 6-4, 320-pound McGlynn was a center then and the 6-4, 290-pound Dockett was working out of a 3-4. "He's a big guy, quick, and he never stops," McGlynn said.
McGlynn is working through a huge transition. He didn't play right guard until he came to the Bengals at the beginning of the regular season and he didn't get any regular snaps there in practice until last week in the wake of Bobbie Wiliams's season-ending broken ankle.
"It's like anything else," McGlynn said. "I'm getting more comfortable with the more work I get."
CALDWELL SITS: With wide receiver Andre Caldwell not dressed for practice Thursday morning after visiting a specialist in Nashville on Wednesday, it doesn't look good for Saturday's game (1 p.m.-WLW-700) against the Cardinals. That makes three days of missed practice and there's no indication if he'll be ready for next week's finale.
Caldwell, suffering groin/abdomimal issues, said there are also plans to examine him for a potential sports hernia.
Left tackle Andrew Whitworth (knee) returned to work Friday after missing two days of practice and was listed as limited. So was safety Reggie Nelson (hip), who surfaced on the report Thursday. Wide receiver A.J. Green (shoulder) was limited for the second straight day. Running back Brian Leonard (knee), fullback Chris Pressley (knee), right tackle Andre Smith (ankle), and safety Chris Crocker (knee) were limited, as they have been all week. In the past, a limited third day of practice has usually meant OK for a game.
Cornerback Nate Clements and middle linebacker Rey Maualuga didn't practice for non-injury related reasons.
KOLB LIMITED: For the second straight practice, Cards quarterback Kevin Kolb (head) was limited Thursday. Head coach Ken Whisenhunt wouldn't elaborate, but going off his remarks earlier in the week in which he said the QB that got the most reps would play, that indicates second-year man John Skelton. Right tackle Brandon Keith was ruled out for the Cards.
WEATHER CHECK: The National Weather Service in Wilmington, Ohio calls for mostly sunny skies Saturday with a game-time temperature of 44 degrees and winds out of the southwest at five to 10 miles per hour. There's no chance of rain.