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Notes: Caldwell out; T.J. on Ward

Updated: 6:10 p.m.

Bengals linebacker Keith Rivers headed to season-ending injured reserve Monday when he underwent surgery to heal two fractures in his jaw. The jaw is expected to be wired shut for about six weeks.

There didn't seem to be a huge cry Monday in the building that Ward should get fined for a helmet-to-helmet hit. There is some thought that Ward came underneath the chin strap.

As far as Bengals wide receiver T.J. Houshmandzadeh is concerned, anyone could have made the block on Rivers.



"Guy doesn't see you coming, who doesn't do that? Every receiver in the league would do that if they had the opportunity," Houshmandzadeh said after he told a reporter, "You could have done that."

"But you just don't get them too often. When their run game is as effective as it is, the running back is going to get on the perimeter a lot. Instead of blocking the guy he's supposed to block, he peels back and gets guys that are pursuing the ball."

Rookie wide receiver Andre Caldwell says he'll be back in four weeks after suffering a stress fracture in his foot Sunday on his second kickoff return during his NFL debut against the Steelers.

As expected, Marvin Lewis ruled out Carson Palmer for Sunday's game in Houston.

Caldwell, the third-round pick out of Florida, said he injured the foot on his second return. Which means he had it a few minutes later when he went 36 yards for the longest of his three shots.

"I felt it pop so I knew something was wrong," Caldwell said Monday. "Last night there was a lot of pain after the adrenaline and meds wore off. I'll be back better than ever."

Caldwell is certainly used to coming back. He was shelved with turf toe for about a month during the preseason and it delayed his efforts to become the third receiver.

The injury meant his fellow rookie receiver Jerome Simpson also made his first NFL return, but this is new waters for Simpson. Unlike Caldwell, he didn't return kicks in college and his last one before Sunday's eight-yard return came at Reidsville High School in North Carolina.

Everyone expects running back Cedric Benson to get his second Bengals start in Houston this Sunday after showing the explosion and violence the coaches sought in the running game last week.

"I'm excited," Benson said Monday about Sunday. "I'm also excited about the opportunity (Lewis) gave me to put myself in that position and I'll take full advantage of that."

Dave Lapham, the Bengals radio analyst, is a seasoned Benson watcher from his Texas days as a TV voice of the Big 12. On Monday Lapham asked Benson about the school stats that had him getting half of his yards after contact.

"When you look and strive to be great, it's kind of where you're going to be defined," Benson said. "Make yards after contact. As a running back there is always going to be contact. Very seldom are you just running into a hole."

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