The Bengals defensive line and secondary is still bruised as the club practiced on the Paul Brown Stadium grass fields Monday in its first private workout of the season now that training camp is closed.
That may be one of the main reasons head coach Marvin Lewis said in his Monday news conference that he doesn't consider Thursday's third preseason game against the Packers in a 7 p.m. kickoff at PBS (11:35 p.m.-Cincinnati's Channel 12) to be one of those old-fashioned dress rehearsals.
Usually the first teams play into the second half in the third preseason game but Lewis said he'd use his players like he did in last Thursday's win in Atlanta. He had all the ones out of there by the second half while quarterback Andy Dalton and wide receiver A.J. Green were pulled early in the second quarter after three series, and cornerback Leon Hall played only the first quarter to rest a post-surgery Achilles.
Still, Hall, along with Nate Clements and Terence Newman, remain the only healthy front-line cornerbacks. Dre Kirkpatrick practiced for the second time this camp and Adam Jones and Jason Allen are in their third weeks out with muscle pulls.
It's thin up front as well, where on Monday end Micah Johnson returned after being out Sunday with an unknown ailment, but end DeQuin Evans (unknown) didn't work. So with left end Carlos Dunlap (knee) and Robert Geathers (knee) also out, newcomer Luke Black, a rookie free agent end out of Fairmont State, is going to see plenty of time Thursday.
Also out Monday were backup defensive tackles Brandon Thompson and Pat Sims, and three starters not expected to play Thursday in tight end Jermaine Gresham (sprained knee), middle linebacker Rey Maualuga (sprained knee) and running back BenJarvus Green-Ellis (foot).
COACHING GAMER: The Bengals have not only missed their top two running backs most of the preseason, but their long-time coach has played hurt since training camp opened.
Running backs coach Jim Anderson, the dean of NFL assistant coaches with 29 straight seasons with the same club, worked on the field Sunday with a crutch. That was 48 hours after a knee scope for a meniscus tear, which was done about six hours after the team landed back in Cincinnati from Atlanta in the wee hours of Friday morning.
Before you say, "They don't make them like that anymore," how about this? Anderson had the same procedure done on the other knee back on July 23, three days before the first meeting. Total time missed for two scopes? Just a brief walkthrough the day after the Falcons game.
CED RETURN: During his remarkable run, Anderson has coached six backs to 17 1,000-yard seasons and one of the backs that authored three of those seasons comes to town Thursday to make his debut with the Packers. When the Bengals opted to sign Green-Ellis instead of Cedric Benson back in March, Benson let it be known he appreciated how the Bengals had revived his career by signing him off the street on the last day of September in 2008.
Still, everyone knows Benson is going to be loaded for bear when he tees it up Thursday, which is saying something for a man that always runs angry. The chip on his shoulder may not be as big as the one he used to break the NFL record for most yards gained by a back against his old team when he led the Bengals to a rout over the Bears with 189 yards in 2009.
But it will be big.
"Ced left here on great terms. It was a great season. We lost in the playoffs. We think nothing but very highly of Ced Benson," Lewis said. "He did great things here. He was a good guy for our team. He was one of those guys after the 2010 season, he was embarrassed. They all had their ideas about what we could do to get back on top and a lot of those things I instituted."
You've got to believe that two of those things were getting rid of wide receivers Terrell Owens and Chad Johnson. And after Benson bristled at the extensive use of the pass that season, the Bengals changed offensive coordinators.
One of the reasons Green-Ellis signed here is because of Anderson's legacy of backs as he and Bernard Scott try to become the seventh back to hit the 1,000-yard mark for him. BJGE already has one 1,000-yard season in his four seasons with 1,008 in 2010. Scott is looking for his first, but with offensive coordinator Jay Gruden talking about back-by-committee, it may not happen.
NO TWEET ZONE: Lewis wasn't about to say "I told you so" after Giants punter Steve Weatherford tweeted a picture of Jason Pierre-Paul dunking Prince Amukamara in the cold tub in an incident that briefly chilled Tim Tebow on New York's back pages.
But he's pretty happy his tweeting ban still exists for his players even though the Bengals are putting training camp behind them and switching into regular-season mode.
"We had some guys cross the line a little bit. That New Era hat shop in Atlanta. They just couldn't help themselves," Lewis said of last week's trip to play the Falcons. "I think guys understand why. It would not help us. I know social media is important. Part of our future probably. And it's an important part of their past on a collegiate campus. But I don't think we were really handling it very well. Before we did something that didn't shine well on the football team, I think it was just best for us on the football team."
Lewis said the players can figure out on their own how to best make it work if they need to tweet about their foundations or charitable causes.
"But I don't need to hear about where you are and what you're doing or your comment on something that's not so smart that someone else says," Lewis said. "We don't need to be associated with that. Let's focus on football; it's been a good focus. We're going out and showing it and proving it, and we have another great opportunity Thursday to come out and play great football against a very good team."
DON'T FORGET JONES THE ELDER: Rookie receiver Marvin Jones has come out of nowhere the last couple of weeks and special teams coach Darrin Simmons would love see him return a kick or a punt.
But he's not forgetting about the other Jones, the veteran, the man who came off a year-layoff last season and popped a punt 63 yards the first time he touched the ball.
And it seems like ever since that play in Seattle in which he pulled his hamstring, Adam Jones has been fighting tweaks and pulls. The Bengals kept him out of the bulk of OTAs and his pulled calf muscle has benched him going into the third week now.
The guy doing the most pushing for the Bengals to re-sign Jones back in March was probably Simmons because he still remembers the three punts Jones took all the way in 2006 while playing for the Titans. And he's not ruling out putting Jones back there in the Sept. 10 opener if he doesn't get back in time for the Aug. 30 preseason finale in Indianapolis.
"I'd be apprehensive about it, but the good part about it is the guy on the other sideline would be more apprehensive than I would be," Simmons said after Monday's practice. "Anytime he's on the field there's apprehension by the opposing coach. I know what it feels like to go against a guy that has the talent he has. He strikes fear in a lot of people."
Part of Jones's daily rehab is catching punts, so it's not like he'd be going into it and it wouldn't be all that different than what he did the week before the Seattle game. So …
"Believe me. I hear you," Simmons said. "I don't need to see Adam Jones's ability. I know he has ability. But I want to see him have confidence in his decision-making. It's been awhile since he's done that stuff. Regardless of what he thinks or anybody else thinks, you need reps doing that. You have to be out there."
It looks like like Jones won't be Thursday, which means Andrew Hawkins gets another shot to nail down what looks like is going to be a partnership with fellow receiver Brandon Tate. Hawkins didn't hurt himself with those three fair catches in Atlanta because Simmons said they were all good decisions with the punting team having the advantage because of field position.
He also liked Hawkins's burst on a 32-yard kick return, but thought he returned it too much like a punt and didn't get it up the field quickly enough.
But, his speed is clearly special.
"We all know he's electrifying," Simmons said.
BUCS GRAB SHIP: Tampa Bay has changed coaches, but the Buccaneers still love grabbing Bengals receivers. With Tampa Bay claiming fifth, the Bucs may have beat Jacksonville (claiming seventh) to the punch to claim Jordan Shipley on Monday after the Bengals waived him Friday. The Bucs lured sixth-round pick Dez Briscoe to their practice squad with active roster money back in '10. The Jags offense is now coached by former Bengals coordinator Bob Bratkowski, a big Shipley admirer.
The Bucs are looking for help for Vincent Jackson. Quarterback Josh Freeman threw for 21 yards on 10 passes in Tampa Bay's latest preseason effort.
"I think he has a chance, there's time where he can get on a football team and show what he can do and have a chance to make their roster," Lewis said before the move came down Monday. "If we hung on to him through the last cut or whenever depending on what happened, he doesn't get that same opportunity. It also says how confident where we have improved a lot on our football team is at the receiver group and so we feel really good about those guys and how we've improved. We wanted to be fair to Jordan and give him an opportunity with another football team."