Left end Carlos Dunlap is out a month with a sprained knee, which would put him out of the NFL regular-season opener Sept. 10 in Baltimore. But Dunlap said his goal is to make it back a week before everybody says he will.
"It's the new Carlos," head coach Marvin Lewis said of Dunlap's diligence.
But Lewis wouldn't elaborate on Dunlap's injury after Sunday's practice in Paul Brown Stadium before about 2,000 fans. All he said is that Dunlap is going to miss four weeks. With Robert Geathers (knee) also out at left end, Lewis said there'll be a plethora of guys taking snaps there. It looks like Jamaal Anderson will get the start there, with transplanted linebacker Micah Johnson and hybrid linebackers Dontay Moch and Manny Lawson also getting look-sees depending on down and distance. Rookie tackle Devon Still, who hasn't played end since high school, has been told to prepare to play some left end Thursday in Atlanta (8 p.m.-Cincinnati's Channel 19).
Lewis said the replacement officiating crew missed last Friday's fourth-down call on the second series in which the Bengals were flagged for being lined up over the center while getting ready to receive a punt. It's the play that led to Dunlap's injury.
"Hopefully you don't have a call like that that's missed during the regular season because that was an easy one; that wasn't a hard one to get right," Lewis said. "It's a totally different rule than what they have in college football."
Because of the penalty, the Jets stayed on the field and Dunlap got hurt on the next play.
Dunlap sounded relieved when he met the media after Sunday's practice.
"Being able to walk off on my own was a big thing for me. I didn't want to be carted off. That was a positive," Dunlap said. "I was running to the ball and a guy took a fall and happened to clip my knee. Initially I grabbed my leg because it was in pain. I didn't know what to think."
But those that know Dunlap say this one is tough on him after working so hard in the offseason to prevent the hamstring problems that knocked him out of four games.
And the preseason and knees have not been kind to him. A knee strain kept Dunlap out of every preseason game last year and he had a knee strain coming out of his rookie camp in 2010 and missed the first two games of the season.
"I mean you can do all you want to prepare and prevent injuries but you can't prevent all of them," Dunlap said. "I feel like I am fully prepared for the ones I can't control but it is still the game of football. There's things that happen and now I have to do what I have to do to get back out there."
After three right knee injuries in the season's first 4:45, some wondered if the new synthetic field turf at PBS was too new. Left tackle Andrew Whitworth said no, it is no different than the one before it.
"I don't think the field has anything to do with it; the thing is getting used to do it," Whitworth said. "With more and more teams that have that surface, you're going to have injures like that. Like I said before, when you have that turf you have great footing.
"The difference in that and grass is sometimes when you slip, you fall down. On that stuff you have grip at all times when there are times you really don't want to have grip because you're in a bad body position to hit somebody. That's what ends up happening. Sometimes that's what happened. Sometimes you're locked into something and things rolling into you or vice versa. You can't really move because you're planted in this ground. That's going to happen some on this stuff."
Lewis also said running back BenJarvus Green-Ellis (foot) won't play Thursday, but indicated he'd be back next week for the Aug. 23 game against the Packers at Paul Brown Stadium.
Don't expect middle linebacker Rey Maualuga (sprained knee) to play Thursday after he sat out Sunday's practice. Safety Taylor Mays (concussion) didn't work, but has been cleared to practice and is questionable for Thursday.
With Travelle Wharton (knee) expected to go on season-ending injured reserve, Clint Boling's elevation to starting left guard has been met with confidence.
"Clint's a really smart guy and he knows what he's doing. You don't have to worry about the mental part of the game. He handles that pretty well," said left tackle Andrew Whitworth. "He's ready for his opportunity. He's shown that in this training camp to this point. He was kind of one of those people knocking on the door. 'Man, this guy is on the verge taking somebody's spot. He's playing well.' You hate the way it happened. He's getting an opportunity and he's got to make the most of it."
Another guy getting an opportunity is Otis Hudson as the Bengals try to find a replacement for Boling as the first guard off the bench. Hudson has struggled this training camp after having a good one last year before he hurt his knee. But he had a good game Friday night and says he's going to be playing like he did in '11, when he wasn't so worried about making mistakes.