Update: 8:15 p.m.
In games against the Patriots and Browns, the Bengals threw the ball like they haven't thrown it in years. In games against the Panthers and Buccaneers, they ran the ball like they did last year. Now offensive coordinator Bob Bratkowski knows they have to put it all together for points Sunday in Atlanta.
"The players have confidence in their ability to do both," Bratkowski said after Thursday's practice. "What we have to do is break through the hump of not shooting ourselves in the foot to keep us from getting the points. It sounds easy, but it requires 11 moving pieces and they have to be in sync and not have a breakdown from one player because one breakdown from one player can get you."
The argument has been made that Bratkowski must pare down the playbook in order to prevent the silly penalties. While he says the coaches have tinkered with the offensive load during the bye, he also says this is the simplest playbook he's had in quarterback Carson Palmer's seven seasons and he doesn't think much more can be simplified.
Bratkowski went that way because he had a rookie tight end, a rookie wide receiver, and a new wide receiver.
"We have new parts in there, too," said Bratkowski of the pre-snap mistakes. "That's the reason why we did it. I feel like we're moving in the right direction. We just have it prove it."
SLANTS AND SCREENS
» Sometimes, it's just one of those seasons when it comes to nicks and nacks.
First, there was the bruised forearm that drove him out of the Baltimore game last month. Now there is the ankle injury that has sidelined him since the Tampa Bay game 11 days ago. But cornerback Johnathan Joseph says it is nothing major. Whether that means he can play or not Sunday seems to be a day-to-day proposition.
"It's been a couple of things. Nothing serious, but you just have to try and see how it responds every day. You're never totally healthy, anyway, in the season," Joseph said before Thursday's practice.
Joseph didn't work again Thursday, which means he could be sidelined Sunday for the first time since he went on injured reserve with five games left in the 2008 season. It looks like safety Roy Williams (knee) is going to miss his second straight game because he didn't practice again. Neither did running back Brian Leonard (thigh). Defensive tackle Pat Sims (knee) did return after sitting out Wednesday.
» It turns out that safety Chris Crocker is looking forward to getting matched against Falcons tight end Tony Gonzalez this Sunday when he figures to line up some against Gonzalez's 1,026 career catches.
"We've gone against each other several times and it's fun; there's mutual respect there," Crocker says.
» This is cornerback Adam Jones' second straight weekend in his hometown. During the bye week last Friday night he went to his alma mater's homecoming at Westlake High School. He's got 50 tickets ("all family") for Sunday's game, his first ever in the Georgia Dome even though he was Class 4A all-state and a league MVP.
» Whose talk is trashier? Sending Ocho T-shirts to the Falcons secondary like Bengals wide receiver Chad Ochocinco did earlier this week? Or Falcons wide receiver Roddy White declaring on Roddy White.tv that "The Bengals think they're good ... I don't even know their record. I think they're 2-4 ... that's not good. ... They were talking big in the preseason ... now we're going to shatter their dreams and desires."?
»Bengals wide receiver Jordan Shipley made theNFL's video sent to all 32 teams to remind them what is and isn't an illegal hit. Browns wide receiver T.J. Ward had rotten timing three weeks ago when he gave Shipley a concussion with an elbow to the head that was not only illegal but late. Yet his timing turned out to be impeccable because if he did that this Sunday, he would have been suspended and/or hit with a $50,000ish fine.