Update: 5:45 p.m.
Right guard Bobbie Williams never failed to give one of the best memories of the Bengals' run to the playoffs last season. After each win, home and road, the 6-4, 345-pound Williams, an emotional bear of a man, would recognize Bengals fans along the runway to the locker room with upraised arms and helmet and his toothy, joyous "Who Dey" smile.
As he talked Thursday about the Bengals season sweep last year of a Steelers team that he says always plays with a grudge and attitude, Williams, an offensive captain holding the pulse of the locker room with guys like Carson Palmer, Andrew Whitworth and Chris Crocker, got a brainstorm.
"Last year that was a big part of our success; that attitude and grudge," Williams said before practice. "If we're going to get things turned around, this is the game it has get to turned around on. It's been on and off. Even though the record doesn't show it, (the grudge) has been an off and on thing. Last year, it was more consistent. I think maybe that's something the guys need to hear."
And if they don't want to hear it, they can watch it. Williams just might.
He says the Bengals used the Steelers mindset to beat them at their own game, particularly in the Battle of 18-12 at Heinz Field that became a game of attrition and composure. With the Bengals chewing up the late fourth quarter running right at the Steelers, NFL Defensive Player of the Year James Harrison got so frustrated he gave Whitworth a right cross to the helmet for a 15-yard penalty.
"That's what we've got to reflect on and do it in a hurry," Williams said. "We've got to go back and look at that film, look at those games and see how we played them and study them. Study our mentality. Study our body language. The physicalness of it and bring it out there Monday night. We've got to. We have to."
Williams isn't saying the Bengals came into this season complacent. What he is saying is they need the same edge that cut the Steelers.
"The expectations were set so high and guys just kind of felt with all the good weapons we have that it would just fall into place, but even that takes work," Williams said. "That's what we played with (an edge) and that's how we played. We played like we had something to prove every game versus coming in this year with a lot of hype."
SLANTS AND SCREENS
» Bengals cornerback Johnathan Joseph (ankle) is sounding like he can go Monday night against the Steelers, but he won't say for sure. He hasn't played since suffering a high ankle sprain Oct. 10 against Tampa Bay, but he says he feels confident after going what he called '90 percent" in Wednesday's practice and he went full go Thursday.
All the Bengals defensive backs went full go Thursday, including safeties Roy Williams (for the first time since he sprained his knee Oct. 3 in Cleveland and has missed the last three games) and Chinedum Ndukwe (knee), who missed Sunday's game.
Like Wednesday, defensive linemen Tank Johnson (knee) and Jon Fanene (hamstring) weren't at Thursday's practice and Fanene has already been ruled out. Linebacker Roddrick Muckelroy (ankle) also didn't work Thursday. WILL linebacker Keith Rivers (foot) and defensive lineman Frostee Rucker (knee) were limited.
» The Bengals have allowed more 20-yard runs (eight) than they did all last season and safety Chris Crocker said before Thursday's practice that defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer is emphasizing getting the second and third men to the runner.
» Crocker is no stranger to Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. Crocker's Marshall club never lost to Miami University during college and Crocker's only NFL touchdown came in 2004 in Pittsburgh when he picked off the rookie Roethlisberger and ran it in from 20 yards out in the Steelers 34-23 win over the Browns in Roethlisberger's third NFL start. Also in that game Crocker got Roethlisberger for his first NFL sack.
"I think he's better than what people give him credit for," Crocker said. "He's won two Super Bowls and I think people try to say he can't make all the throws. He can make all the throws and he's never had what you would consider a great offensive line. Call him an overachiever or whatever, he just wins."
» Right tackle Andre Smith, who didn't miss a snap in the last two games that were heavy no-huddle, makes his first appearance ever against the Steelers and is impressed with the strength and athleticism of their linebackers.
Offensive line coach Paul Alexander said after Thursday's practice that Smith held up well Sunday against Dolphins outside linebacker Cameron Wake, but the reason Smith has looked more ahead in the run game than pass protectoon is because his broken foot-followed-by-surgey-followed-by-rehab has taken such a chunk out of his practice time both last year and this year.
"The good part is for the past few weeks this is the first time since he been here we've been able to work on football drills because of his foot and making sure that's OK," Alexander said. "This week has been fun that way, working on basic football technical things in pads. He hasn't practiced that much, so this is good because right now he's obviously a very good football player but he's learning pro technique and hopefully once he gets pro technique he'll be a good pro."
"A good start," Alexander said. "No. 91 (Wake) didn't get any sacks. A few pressures. 91 is a good player. It's a good start."
» Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis got off a good line Wednesday in the conference call with Pittsburgh media members when they suggested the claiming of wide receiver Randy Moss next to Chad Ochocinco and Terrell Owens would give the Bengals a triple threat.
"Yeah, I know, but which way?" Lewis asked.
» For six special years in Cincinnati, from 1970-75, Riverfront Stadium housed two teams that were led on to the Astroturf by a Hall of Fame coach and manager. While Paul Brown coached the Bengals to three playoff berths, George Leroy Anderson led the Big Red Machine to the first of its two world titles.
When Sparky Anderson died Thursday at his California home, Bengals president Mike Brown paused.
"Sparky has a special place not just in baseball lore in Cincinnati, but in all sports history," Brown said in a statement. "The Big Red Machine teams he led were one of Cincinnati's biggest claims to fame during his tenure, and they remain that even now. Everyone admired him, including baseball fans of all stripes, and I put myself in that number."