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Notes: Eifert still rehabbing; Geno expected to be OK; CB Lewis-Harris added


For the second straight day Thursday morning, Pro Bowl tight end Tyler Eifert went to the rehab field instead of the practice field and that would indicate he's still in the mix to play Monday (8:30 p.m.-Cincinnati's Channel 5 and ESPN) in Denver.

Eifert is still in concussion protocol, but the fact he was back on the field shows he hasn't had a setback and he gets an extra day to get ready.

Other than that, the Bengals returned their cornerbacks intact Thursday after starting corner Dre Kirkpatrick and slot corner Leon Hall rested Wednesday. But starting safety George Iloka, who has missed the last 10 days after re-aggravating a groin injury against Pittsburgh, was out again Thursday.

Will linebacker Vontaze Burfict, as he has been doing every Thursday, took the day off.

Nickel linebackers Vincent Rey (hamstring) and Emmanuel Lamur (hamstring) were limited.

The Bengals have Christmas Day off Friday, so by the time they come back Saturday for a walk-through before leaving for Denver later in the day, the linebackers figure to be ready to go. The only questionable players look to be Eifert and Iloka.

LEWIS SAYS GENO OK:  Pro Bowl defensive tackle Geno Atkins has been active in the community via Children's Hospital spreading awareness about sickle cell trait and sickle cell disease. According to the hospital, Atkins found out he has sickle cell trait as a college freshman. With the Bengals playing a Mile High in Denver Monday night it can become an issue but the Bengals don't expect it to be.

Atkins doesn't have serious health problems stemming from the trait, but during extreme physical exertion and at high altitudes, those with the sickle cell trait can become prone to dehydration or have trouble breathing, according to the hospital. In his only game in Denver in 2011, his second game as a starter, Atkins played just 29 snaps.

But head coach Marvin Lewis said the trait wasn't the reason Atkins couldn't play more. The Bengals were banged up on the defensive line (Robert  Geathers didn't play) and Lewis said at one point Atkins played 15 straight snaps. That won't happen Monday night.

"We're aware of it and he's aware of it," Lewis said, indicating the line rotation will be in full force.

COLD PLAY: The National Weather Service in Wilmington, Ohio, is calling for the Bengals' coldest game of the year Monday night. There is no chance of snow and there is only a projected wind of five miles per hour, but it will be 30 degrees at kickoff and about 23 by the end of the game.

No doubt it is the coldest game ever for Bengals quarterback AJ McCarron in his second NFL start. McCarron, out of Mobile, Ala., and the University of Alabama, thinks his coldest game was his last home game against Georgia, when "it was in the 30s."

"We get snow down south, too," McCarron said with a laugh. "I hear from people who go snow skiing that it's a dry kind of cold out there. It's not like wet cold like down south, where it hurts. I don't care. Hot, cold. I just like playing in big games."

His fullback, Ryan Hewitt, is going to think it's a beach day. He's from Denver and played in a post-season game for Mullen High School when it was minus-4 wind chill.

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DENVER CHECK: The Broncos are no doubt warily watching Eifert's status because their safeties have been banged, but they got good news when T.J. Ward got back on the field Wednesday. Since Ward suffered a high ankle sprain in the first quarter of a Nov. 29 overtime win over the Patriots, the Broncos have had five different safeties with significant playing time since Ward's injury, according to the Denver Post.  He was listed as limited Thursday.

The other starting safety, Darian Stewart (hamstring), didn't practice Wednesday or Thursday after missing Sunday's game against Pittsburgh but says he'll play against the Bengals. Among the street free agents they've signed to regroup back there is old friend Shaun Prater, a fifth-round pound pick in in 2012 who has played 21 games and is with his fourth team.

Broncos quarterback Brock Osweiler make his sixth start Monday and he's not exactly a picture of health. He's got a bruised non-throwing shoulder to go with a swollen eye that's infected.  But he went full Thursday.

ROSTER MOVE: In what is expected to be a grinding game of field position Monday, the Bengals went for experience on special teams when they signed cornerback Chris Lewis-Harris to the active roster from the practice squad Thursday and released rookie cornerback Troy Hill.

The two reversed their spots of three weeks ago, when Hill came off the practice squad and played well in his first three NFL games, coming up with three tackles on defense and three more on special teams. Lewis-Harris was re-signed to the practice squad and that could be in Hill's future.

Hill has looked good, but the bottom line is Lewis-Harris has played in 17 games over four seasons.

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