Marvin Lewis is heading into his 13th opener, 10th on the road.
As he prepares for his 13th Opening Day this Sunday in Oakland (4:15 p.m.-Cincinnati's Channel 12), Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis knows what a luxury it is to open at home. Especially since the Bengals haven't done it since 2009.
And he's good with that. As long as they finish at home, as they do this season against AFC North rival Baltimore for the fourth time in the last five seasons.
"It's the way the Reds schedule has fallen, unless we have a Monday night game,' said Lewis before Monday's practice. "The way their schedule is, they're home corresponding to the first weekend of our regular season. We decided not to challenge that. Generally, we get a chance to finish at home. I'll take that trade."
From 2011-2013 the Bengals finished with the Ravens at Paul Brown Stadium and went 2-1, the last win in 2013 clinching the AFC North title and knocking Baltimore out of the playoffs. And, besides, he doesn't have good memories of that last home opener, that nauseous 12-7 loss to Denver.
Lewis could only shake his head when asked if he remembers the last time they opened at home.
You know the one. When the Bengals had the Broncos backed up on their 13-yard line with about 20 seconds left and a 7-6 lead and in his attempt to bat a pass out of bounds, cornerback Leon Hall tipped it into the field of play, resulting in the longest winning touchdown pass in the last minute of an NFL game.
"Oh yeah. I remember the last snap of the last (opener) at home,' Lewis said.
By the way, that game is six years to the day the Bengals play the Raiders.
So Lewis knows what will greet the Bengals in old friend Jack Del Rio's first game as the Raiders head coach.
"It's just different. The whole thing speeds up,' Lewis said. "It's the first game for a new coach who basically grew up in the area who is an experienced coach with an experienced staff. They're going to be jacked up, ready to go."
Lewis can go back longer than Sept. 13, 2009. Try Sept. 14, 2003, his second game as Bengals head coach, his first on the road and the Raiders home opener.
"That's the day when they were crowned AFC champs," Lewis said of the madness of the 2002 AFC title celebration, which foreshadowed the Bengals' 23-20 loss.
Lewis is 5-7 in openers, 4-5 on the road and 1-2 at home.
MIKE BACK: Right end Michael Johnson, who hadn't practiced since spraining the MCL in his knee on Aug. 2, went on the field for practice Monday as the Bengals prep for Sunday's opener (4:15 p.m.-Cincinnati's Channel 12) in Oakland.
That may not be enough time to get Johnson ready, but at least it looks like it could be a game-time decision. It almost certainly means he'll be ready for the home opener the next week when Paul Brown Stadium plays host to the Chargers in a 1 p.m. start.
JAX HAD TO HEAL:
Hue Jackson, the last head coach Al Davis ever gave the black and silver, admitted after Monday's practice that it took him about a year to get over the firing.
Jackson, whose creativity as the Bengals offensive coordinator is the same trait that caught Davis eye five years ago, goes back to Oakland for Sunday's opener (4:15 p.m.-Cincinnati's Channel 12) for the first time since Davis' son, Mark, let Jackson go after his first season despite leading the Raiders to an 8-8 record.
It is the Raiders' best record since they won the AFC title in 2002 and they've done it twice. Once under Jackson and the year before that they did it when Jackson was head coach Tom Cable's offensive coordinator.
"It took me probably a year. It did," Jackson said of the healing process. "You look back on the things you could have done better, and then we ended up playing that the next year (a 34-10 Bengals' victory). So you go through all that process and seeing people you know and respect and love, people who fought with you and all that. And then you move on beyond that. Hopefully I did all that right, in a professional manner. And I know I did."
Even after the Bengals drilled the Raiders on Nov. 25, 2012 at PBS in a game that saw three ejections, Jackson, then a Bengals defensive assistant, had to still fight through it. The year wasn't up.
"You had to go through all the different things that were said. There were a lot of things said within the media that were – everybody had their opinion of why it was this way, why it was that way," Jackson said. "And not that you read all that, you hear it. Just like we all deal with that. But at the same time I knew what the consequences were when I took the job. And I understood what happened when I lost the job. Those things happen. You get hired in these jobs to someday get fired. You don't want it to be that fast, but we did know that those things happen. "
As Jackson said, a lot of water has gone under the bridge. It began when Al Davis died in the middle of Jackson's season head coaching the Raiders. Then Jackson came back to the Bengals after he was moved, taking a defensive assistant job for the first time in his life.
Then he became the running backs coach for a season before becoming the offensive coordinator after the 2014 season when Jay Gruden became Washington's head coach. Mark Davis is on his third coach since firing Jackson, turning to former Jaguars head coach Jack Del Rio this past offseason after a three-year run of 11-37.
"Now it's different. The feeling is different. It's not as raw in my emotions as it was back then," Jackson said. " So this is another game against a good football team and we're on the road a long way from home, so we have to play good."