Wide receiver A.J. Green may be day-to-day, but for the fourth straight day Wednesday he didn't practice with his injured big toe and that makes Sunday against the Colts (1 p.m.-Cincinnati's Channel 12) look like a longshot for him
As expected, linebackers Emmanuel Lamur (shoulder) and Rey Maualuga (hamstring) didn't work, but right guard Kevin Zeitler (calf) gave it a shot and was listed full go for the first time since he got hurt Sept. 14. Defensive tackle Brandon Thompson (knee) looks like he's still at least a week away and didn't work.
Left tackle Andrew Whitworth (knee) and right guard Mike Pollak (knee) took their veteran's days while left guard Clint Boling (knee) worked on the turf inside Paul Brown Stadium.
Running back Giovani Bernard (shoulder) and Wallace Gilberry (eye), who came back into Sunday's game after leaving, appeared on Wednesday. Gilberry, who had five stiches about his right eye after his helmet was torn off, didn't practice. Bernard worked and wasn't on the injury report. Safety George Iloka (abdomen) and right tackle Andre Smith (shoulder) were limited.
HEAD HITS: There has been a lot of concern about Burfict's penchant for leading with his head after he left each of the first two games with a concussion. And after he sat out the next two games, he had to leave last Sunday after another hit to the head, but he came back to play. Lewis indicated he was fine to re-enter.
"He had a concussion against Atlanta, that's the biggest concern," Lewis said. "I coached defense and linebackers for a long time and concussions didn't linger. Now we've found because of the media and things, they seem to linger longer. There's a lot of attention paid to it. I don't know why they linger longer. I don't remember the lingering like they do now."
As a member of the competition committee and a guy that has coached 186 NFL games, Lewis is getting ripped for those remarks. ProFootballTalk.com called them "insensitive,"coming from a figure with so much experience in the league.
But earlier in the news conference, Lewis had talked about trying to get Burfict not to use his head and acknowledged it is the proper way to play. "Football is changing. We're really trying to coach the head out of football," Lewis said. "That's been the mission of the league for the past two or three years and that continues daily. We've got to do that. We're teaching young guys new habits. Sometimes when that ball goes in the air it's difficult to do all the time."
NICO SIGNS: A day after signing a second-rounder, the Bengals plucked 2013 fourth-rounder Nico Johnson off the Chiefs practice squad in the wake of the hamstring injury to middle linebacker Rey Maualuga.
The 6-2, 250-pound Johnson and former Browns wide receiver Greg Little, a 2011 second-rounder, may not dress for Sunday's game (1 p.m.-Cincinnati's Channel 12) in Indianapolis. But like Little, Johnson is here for some work down the road as the Bengals grapple with injuries.
Johnson, out of Alabama, is "a thumper,' who plays pretty much middle backer, a spot that backup Vincent Rey filled more than capably last season. Johnson had seven tackles last season in seven games that included a start. After he had 15 tackles and three special teams tackles in this past preseason, he was waived and then signed on to the Chiefs practice squad.
It sounds like Johnson is going to be here for a while. Lewis says he hits them in a couple of different spots, such as depth for the future. Maualuga is a free agent after this season. The Bengals have had a good read on Johnson because linebackers coach Matt Burke coached him in the Senior Bowl.
"He's a young guy, that's number one. We were able bring in another player who has NFL upside, to get him going, and get him started. It kind of hits us in two spots," Lewis said. "He's giving us some depth right now with Rey being injured, to provide the backup at that spot, but secondly, that he's got a great future."
The Bengals figure to play mostly their nickel defense against Luck, so Maualuga wouldn't have played a lot of snaps. Rey and WILL backer Vontaze Burfict are probably going to play most of the snaps as nickel backers with SAM backer Emmanuel Lamur (shoulder) also hurting. Safety Taylor Mays also figures to get work in that role.
Johnson was ideal at the moment. He's 24, has been in a training camp this year, and was one of the top 99 players chosen in his draft.
"With veteran guys, it's difficult. If you haven't been in a training camp, it's hard," Lewis said. "Guys are not going to pass a physical, and it's going to be difficult when they get here because they're not going to be in the kind of football shape that you need to play NFL football. You're really talking about using kind of a patchwork job, where sometimes the patchwork isn't quite the patchwork you need. In this case, this was great for us because of the upside and the future as well. He's obviously got future ability."