Safety Reggie Nelson (20) is climbing up the Bengals all-time interceptions list.
Bengals starting cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick (calf) went full in Friday's practice and is probable to play in Sunday's Paul Brown Stadium opener (1 p.m.-Cincinnati's Channel 12) against the Chargers. Same with starting safety Reggie Nelson (groin).
Starting safety George Iloka (ankle) and backup rookie cornerback Josh Shaw (groin) were limited and are questionable but it sounds like they could play and that would be Iloka's 34th straight start. Head coach Marvin Lewis said after practice he had 62 of 63 players available, counting the 10-man practice squad. Rookie backup defensive lineman Marcus Hardison (knee) was declared out for a second straight week after not practicing.
HAWK TICKETED: The bio says Sunday's Paul Brown Stadium opener (1 p.m.-Cincinnati's Channel 12) against the Chargers is linebacker A.J. Hawk's PBS debut as a Bengal.
But the kid from nearby Centerville, Ohio has had a feel for the place for a long time. He made his PBS debut in the 2006 preseason while playing for Green Bay in a game that got delayed for nearly two hours by lightning. Hawk doesn't expect the same histrionics Sunday and this has been a much mellower week of a home game compared to what took place the previous nine years in Green Bay.
"I was always scrambling to get tickets," Hawk said. "I'd have to plan it out. People would drive up and make a weekend out of it. A minimum of eight up to 20. Now, I don't have any idea how many are coming. They've been long-time Bengals fans, so they've already had tickets or they know how to get them. Like my buddy texted me that he's coming with his brother and sister, but I didn't have to get them tickets."
A welcome relief. He always seemed to be running behind at Lambeau.
"The best guys to get tickets from are the rookies because they really don't have anybody around and guys would be all over them from the day they were drafted," Hawk said. "I was never smart enough to get to them in time. It was like you had to do it the first day of OTAs."
Hawk has never seen a game at PBS as a fan, but in the mid-1990s he figures he went to anywhere from five to 10 at Riverfront Stadium. He remembers watching the Jeff Blake-Corey Dillon Bengals, but one game doesn't stand out.
"I was about 10, so I knew the game was important but it's all a blur to me," Hawk said. "When you're that young it's like the whole pageantry thing. That's all I remember."
NUGENT TAKE: In his first game kicking extra points from the 33-yard line, Hawk's buddy from Centerville, Mike Nugent, had one blocked last Sunday in Oakland when Justin Tuck appeared to slice through tackles Eric Winston and Andre Smith.
It was only the third blocked PAT in a career Nugent has missed just five of 281 tries. But it had nothing to do with the new distance.
And Nugent doesn't think the longer extra point is going to cut into the number of PATs tried. The man who holds the Bengals' season-scoring record with 132 in 2011 won't be derailed breaking his own record by a bevy of two-point tries.
"I don't think it's going to change the game that much," Nugent said. "Teams are still going to have to go for (two) when they have to. I t just depends on the situation. I don't think that stat is going to change a lot. If we get some crazy weather, maybe, but I don't think there's going to be a big effect on how many attempts we'll do."
REGGIE CLIMBING: Safety Reggie Nelson's pick of an overthrown ball by Raiders backup quarterback Mike McGloin in the second half last Sunday gave him 16 interceptions as a Bengal, one shy of tying three-time Pro Bowl safety Tommy Casanova on the Bengals all-time list in seventh place.
Not bad for a guy who arrived in Cincinnati from Jacksonville just before the 2010 regular season in a trade that was tough on him.
"I love being here. I was down when I got traded," said Nelson, who turns 32 Monday. "I'm in a great place. It's a blessing to be a part of this organization and family and Marvin (Lewis)."
Nelson lines up against Rivers for the sixth time as a Bengal and he's been pretty active against him in the two wins. In 2010 at PBS he had a forced fumble and in 2012 in San Diego he picked off Rivers in the end zone on fourth down from the Bengals 17 with 49 seconds left to preserve a 20-13 victory.
"Great quarterback with a quick release, who's got a lot of good athletes around him,' Nelson said. "We've got our work cut out for us."
By the way, cornerback Leon Hall, a San Diego native, is one interception away from tying seven-time Pro Bowl cornerback Lemar Parrish with 25, fourth on the list.
LEWIS LIKES IT: So far, so good.
Head coach Marvin Lewis changed around his Friday and Saturday practices so that Friday is more of a walk-through with the focus inside the facility on stretching and recovery rather than a full-blown practice. And Saturday is a bit more of an up-tempo walk-through. Both are classified as practices.
"Our players have embraced it. They feel good about it. We're not getting as much push back from the coaches," Lewis said after Friday's practice. "We're finishing up our hardest part of the week 72 hours before we play a game, which we feel good about. The player really has an opportunity to work on his body. We go from the physical focus to the mental focus to the personal focus for him to get his body back to peak shape in order for him play his best on Sunday."
WEATHER CALL: In honor of the Chargers quarterback, the Bengals.com weekly weather update for the day of the game is now officially the Philip Rivers Game Weather Report. The last two times Rivers brought San Diego into Paul Brown Stadium, the dates were Dec. 26, 2010 and Jan. 5, 2014 and the weather was a big topic. So at the end of Wednesday's conference call Rivers asked for a weather report. We told him it would be a San Diego-like 72 degrees and sunny and that's about right.
According to Friday morning's National Weather Service report in Wilmington, Ohio, skies move from partly cloudy to mostly sunny during the day with a game-time temperature of 68 degrees and virtually no chance of rain. Light winds out of the northeast at five miles per hour or less.
The last time they were here for a 2013 AFC Wild Card Game, the Chargers got a nice day for January with 42 degrees and a wind at five miles per hour during a 27-10 victory. In 2010, when the Bengals knocked the Chargers out of the playoffs in a 34-20 victory, it wasn't so nice. The game began in 29-degree weather and a wind of 16 miles per hour made it feel like it was 17 degrees.