Bengals three-time Pro Bowl wide receiver A.J. Green says he'll take Wednesday off, practice Thursday and see how his big right toe feels Friday as he tries to play in Sunday's 1 p.m. game against the Titans at Paul Brown Stadium.
But Green and Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis said before Wednesday's practice that next week's bye won't figure into the decision.
"If it's feeling good, I'm going to go. If not, we'll take it from there," Green said. "But I'm not just thinking about taking a week off just to rest it because if it's fine, I'm going to go."
There was no sign of Pro Bowl WILL backer Vontaze Burfict, who left in the second half Sunday after he accidently got kneed in the head by a teammate, and for the second straight week he has been diagnosed with a concussion.The injury was originally called "a stinger," but symptoms later surfaced. Burfict left the opener 10 days ago with a concussion when he hit Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco.
Right guard Kevin Zeitler (calf), who was wearing a boot in the locker room, wasn't on the field and it's doubtful he'll play Sunday.
Defensive tackle Brandon Thompson (knee) joined the group working on the rehab field that included Green, wide receiver Marvin Jones (foot) and running back Rex Burkhead (knee). Jones and Burkhead look like they're close. Also out was linebacker Sean Porter (hamstring). Jones has already been ruled out of Sunday's game, but Burkhead has not.
As they have the previous two weeks, left tackle Andrew Whitworth and guard Mike Pollak had veteran rest days. But it's a little more than that for Whitworth, since he suffered a bruised knee early in the fourth quarter but came back to finish.
Green has had more medical terms about his injury than catches. He says it is turf toe, but not as bad, and doesn't expect it to linger after originally tweaking it in the first quarter of the season in Baltimore running a route. He says it feels better but he's anxious to see how it feels Friday after he practices.
He said it never felt right during warmups last Sunday against Atlanta and came out after five plays.
"I knew it was a little tender. I thought I could make it through," Green said. "But I couldn't get the full extension on my foot I needed to run my routes. I didn't want to go out there and hurt myself even more.
"I do everything off my foot. It's just getting the range of motion back on that big toe. That's the biggest thing, because I'm always on that."
When the schedule came out, the first September bye in Lewis' 12 seasons was met with disdain. Now, the break in Week 4 on Sept. 28 is embraced. Lewis admits it.
"I'm a huge fan of early bye weeks this year," he said with a laugh. "As we know, when the schedule comes out, we don't know the way anything is going to unfold, and now, at this point, obviously we could benefit from having a week off. But we can't get to the week off like we want to be without going out and playing well, and preparing well this week, and beating the Titans."
OLD FOE: It figures that the Bengals are trying to set the franchise record for most consecutive regular-season wins at home (11) against a guy that helped the 1988-89 Bengals win 10 straight. Titans defensive coordinator Ray Horton played defensive back when the Bengals went 8-0 at Riverfront Stadium.
But he's best known to the Green-Dalton Bengals as one of the best defensive coordinators in the NFL. Horton formed his defensive prowess in Cincinnati playing for secondary coach and defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau's intricate 3-4 zone-blitz scheme and coached with LeBeau during stints with the Bengals and Steelers before striking out on his own.
"They do a good job with all the different stuff, with different looks, whether it is four-down, three-down, all the different stuff that they do," said Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton. "So we've got to be sharp mentally to be able to handle what they're going to throw at us. It just comes with the preparation throughout the week."
They lived it last year. In Cleveland Horton's unit held the Bengals to two field goals and at PBS last season Cincinnati needed defense and special teams to blow out the Browns, 41-20, because the Raymen held Dalton to a career-low in a full game with 93 passing yards. Cornerback Joe Haden also picked two out of his three passes late in the first quarter to boost Cleveland to a 13-0 lead on a day he held Green to a then career-low seven yards on two catches.
Go back to Dalton's rookie year when Horton coordinated Arizona and in his three games against a Horton defense he's completed 54 percent of his passes for just 5.5 yards per attempt and a 71.7 passer rating that is below his career of 86.4.
Of course, Horton has no one near Haden playing the corner, although profootballfocus.com rated Tennessee's Jason McCourty as the 11th best NFL corner and Haden 17th last year.
Horton may not have the secondary in Nashville that he had in Cleveland, but there are some telltale signs the Bengals are going to have a tough time scoring the 24 points they got against Atlanta. The Titans are tied for eighth in scoring defense and lead the league in allowing the fewest passing yards, although they are giving up 143.5 yards per game on the ground.
Jason Campbell, Dalton's backup, quarterbacked the Browns last season and can offer some insight on Horton.
"He comes out of the Pittsburgh defensive system, but he also does his own things," Campbell said. "He did some things with Joe because he knew his strengths. That's why he's an exceptional coach. He does what his personnel does best. He'll take away what a team does best and make you beat him another way. It's not like he does just one or two things."
Campbell's advice to Dalton is simple.
"Just keep playing the way he's playing," Campbell said. "Keep making smart, quick decisions. Don't force it if it's not there. They'll try to make you drive it on them."
TIX SALES PICK UP: The Bengals said after Wednesday's practice that ticket sales have picked up enough that the 24-hour extension could be used into Friday as they try to avoid a Sunday local TV blackout. In the recent past an extension has always translated into getting enough sold so the blackout is lifted. Using a weather term to mirror how head coach Marvin Lewis occasionally characterizes injuries, ticket sales manager Andrew Brown said the outlook isn't as stormy as it was Tuesday.
"We are closer and things are trending in the right direction. I would say yesterday's status update was awfully dour I admit," said Brown, who on Tuesday said he doubted the blackout would be lifted. "I still (take) a play out of Marvin's book. We're partly cloudy now. It's better than the rainstorms we maybe had yesterday.
"It's been a gradual shift since (Sunday's) game. It's starting to bubble up a little bit, giving a lit bit of a cause for optimism that maybe we can get there.
"Midweek is generally when we see the most movement."
Brown admitted that the club has taken "a little bit of a step back,' this year in its season-ticket sales, from both individual and corporations.
"I think there's a multitude of factors. I don't think you can pinpoint just one thing," Brown said. "A consistent theme is of course the improved experience at home. People opting for the convenience of staying in their basement and having access to bathroom without a line and cheaper beer and all that. That's a pretty prevalent one. Of course we counter that by saying you can't beat being here and enjoying the game with 60,000 friends or 55,000 friends or whatever the case might be.
"We know that we're not unique here, that other teams are also struggling to sell," Brown said. "Of course there are those markets where they have their waiting lists and are sold out for decades, but then there are other teams like us and the Buccaneers or Jaguars or Raiders and you could go on with the teams that are also struggling to move product right now."