It looks like the Bengals are going to make the Steelers guess on quarterback Andy Dalton and the Steelers are going to make the Bengals guess on running back DeAngelo Williams as Cincinnati began preparations Tuesday for Saturday's Wild Card Game (8:15 p.m.-Cincinnati's Channel 12)at Paul Brown Stadium.
Dalton showed up at his locker before practice without the cast that had been on his broken throwing thumb since the tackle that went awry against Pittsburgh at PBS on Dec. 13. He said he's begun rehab but had not yet gripped a football. Head coach Marvin Lewis refused to rule Dalton in or out, but he did send Andy Dalton to the news conference and reiterated what he said Monday. They're preparing early in the week as if McCarron is the starter.
Williams, who suffered an ankle sprain last Sunday in Cleveland, has the longest run by a back against the Bengals in the last 10 games with a 55-yarder in Cincinnati's 16-10 win in Pittsburgh Nov. 1. The Steelers start their prep Wednesday.
Meanwhile, the Bengals had a light workout Tuesday in sweats and hats on the stadium field in a walk-through. But Dalton with what looked to be some heavy urging from offensive coordinator Hue Jackson, still had some fun with the Media Horde. While his teammates pulled off a rhythmic clap, Dalton handed off. Then he threw one left-handed, the first left-handed throw by a Bengals QB since Gus Frerotte got pick sixed in Cleveland and the first left-handed completion since Scott Mitchell. Both off shot-gun snaps. Then he went off to do some exercises.
DRE TAKE: Bengals cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick is one of the Bengals' stand-up guys. Right after last month's bloodbath against the Steelers, he came out and said the Bengals blew their cool and was looking at himself after getting drawn into some post-whistle pushing and shoving with wide receiver Antonio Brown.
On Tuesday, Kirkpatrick was still reaming himself out. So you have to believe Lewis when he says the crackdown on the extracurricular stuff has already happened. And Kirkpatrick isn't the only Bengal talking about how they have to dial it back Saturday night.
"I'm more mature than that. I just went out there with the wrong mindset and I'm talking about myself," Kirkpatrick said. "It sunk in that day. Right after the game."
Kirkpatrick said Dec. 13 is a distant memory.
"We just got to the office today. Guys have great energy around the locker room. Guys have been positive in the locker room," Kirkpatrick said. "No one is really talking about the last time. Of course, Coach addressed it. We know what's at hand. We know what went on. At the end of the day, it's about this game here."
BEAT GOES ON:** They're in the 2015 Super Bowl tournament, but the 2016 season is beckoning and according to media reports the Bengals' franchise is a hot topic on the job market. Bengals director of player personnel Duke Tobin has reportedly turned down offers to interview for the general manager jobs in Detroit and Tennessee to stay in Cincinnati.
Offensive coordinator Hue Jackson figured to be one of the top head coaching candidates and he's already been linked to interest from the Browns, 49ers, and Dolphins via reports. Bengals defensive coordinator Paul Guenther reportedly has an interview set up in Cleveland. Jackson and Guenther can't interview until after the Bengals' Wild Card Game against the Steelers Saturday night. If the Bengals win, there is a window for candidates still in the postseason to interview before the Jan. 16-17 divisional games.
"I know a lot of people say, 'Hey, come on Hue. Let's have you,' or this and that. And that's great. Some people have those aspirations," Jackson said after practice. "But at the same time I know anything that happens for me is because of the people in this building. It has nothing to do with just Hue Jackson. So I don't get caught up in that.
"It's flattering, but at the same time that has nothing to do with beating Pittsburgh, and being prepared for Pittsburgh. That's all you can do right now."
In addition to rebuffing the Titans and Lions, Tobin found time to sign old friend Jayson DiManche to the practice squad and sign three others to the 2016 roster in future contracts that kick in Feb. 8.
DiManche, undrafted out of Southern Illinois, played in 28 games for the Bengals in the previous two seasons with 13 tackles on defense and 15 on special teams. His 14 teams tackles as a rookie in 2013 led the team, when he also had a blocked punt. He's also got a special teams forced fumble. He was waived by Cincinnati this past September and later signed by Cleveland, playing in one game before being moved to the Browns practice squad. He was released by the Browns last Thursday.
Safety Floyd Raven Sr. was with the Bengals in the 2015 preseason as a college free agent and spent time on the New England practice squad. They also inked linebacker Dezmond Johnson of Duke. Johnson, a 2015 college free agent signee by Tennessee, was with the Titans in preseason.
They also signed kicker Zach Hocker, who kicked against the Bengals for the Rams five weeks ago in the Bengals' 31-7 victory at PBS. Hocker kicked an extra point in that game. A seventh-round draft pick of Washington in 2014 out of Arkansas, Hocker was 10 of 14 this season on field goals in two games with St. Louis and six with New Orleans.
Cincinnati Bengals host the Ravens at Paul Brown Stadium in week 17 of the regular season.