Updated: 10-7-13, 6 p.m.
Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis said Monday he felt good about getting back cornerback Leon Hall (hamstring) for Sunday's game in Buffalo (1 p.m.-Cincinnati's Channel 12) after he's missed the last two games.
The Bengals draw little-known Bills quarterback Thad Lewis for his second NFL start with E.J. Manuel resting his injured knee. Marvin Lewis is 13-10 vs. rookie QBs, and journeymen like Brian Hoyer and backups like T.J. Yates have proven to be lethal. The defense that has taken down Ben Roethlisberger, Aaron Rodgers and Tom Brady should be ready and one of Thad Lewis's former teammates at Duke, Bengals backup linebacker Vincent Rey, can fill them in.
"He's a pocket passer. He was able to read from the pocket and that's weird because he's about my height. Around 6-0 and he was able to do it. I'll give him 6-1, not 6-2. He's a quick thinker," Rey said.
"My scouting report for Thad is that he's a guy that's going to compete until the end and he's going to try and make plays from the pocket and if he can't he'll try and make a play."
Since there aren't many Duke guys in the league, Rey and Lewis keep in touch regularly. Lewis contacted Rey as late as Friday, but once Rey found out on Sunday that Lewis was starting against the Bengals, he vowed not to talk to him until after the game.
PERSUASIVE WHIT: The persuasive Andrew Whitworth may have been the most vocal last week about getting back to the run, but on Monday he didn't take credit for a rush that kept Tom Brady on the sidelines for nearly 35 minutes.
"That isn't coming from me. That comes from the fact our line wanted that, the young guys on this offense want that," Whitworth said. "I'm never scared to stand up and say, 'Hey, this is what guys are whining to me about,' or saying to me, or what they want the opportunity to show. I'm never scared to say what our guys want an opportunity to do."
Whitworth says he and his mates are hoping to keep that commitment not so much to the running game, but to the physical aspects.
"We hope. We hope there is. We have to execute whatever is called," Whitworth said of the commitment. "There's no doubt. This line wants to run the football. I think this offense wants to run the football and be physical. Just the attitude and physicality to be able to go and do what is going to help us win games.
"Possessing the football when you have the team to be able to do that is winning football. Like yesterday. We had lot of long drives that didn't result in scores. Nine-, 10-play drives. You're possessing the ball."
The Bengals may be 24th in the NFL in points scored, but they do drive it. They had their fourth TD drive of at least 90 yards on Sunday, their most in a season since 2006, according to Elias. It is also the most 90-yard TD drives the Bengals had in the previous three seasons combined with one in each.
But the Bengals also know there are going to be times they can't run.
"We're going to play certain teams you can't do that to and they'll just absolutely say you're not going to be able to run the ball on us and eliminate it from (the) game plan and you're going to have to be able to throw it," Whitworth said. "But to be able to just keep that physical part of the nature of your team is what is the crucial thing. Not having periods of time where you get away from being physical and kind of getting guys backing up all the time. Just keeping part of it and it's something the offense has to worry about."
MAN OF DISGUISE: Defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer isn't into baiting and switching and disguising, but there was some talk that at times on Sunday that Bengals linebackers Vontaze Burfict and Rey Maualuga would both line up tight to the line and after Patriots quarterback Brady had identified one of them as the MIKE to set the protection, they would simply switch just before the snap.
"I don't think (Brady) was confused," said safety Chris Crocker. "He's got enough people feeling bad for him because of the receivers and the tight ends. I'm not going to feel bad for him. I think he was frustrated, I don't think he was confused and I think that's a complete difference." BERNARD STANDS TALL:BenJarvus Green-Ellis, Giovani Bernard's backfield mate, likes to joke that he and A.J. Green have to put his shoulder pads on the top shelf of his locker because the 5-9 Bernard can't reach them.
But both Bennie and The Jet stood tall in Sunday's 13-6 victory over the Patriots at sold-out Paul Brown Stadium. Green-Ellis hammered in the game's only touchdown on fourth-and-one and the rookie Bernard had a career day with 62 yards on 13 carries.
Even if there was almost disaster with 3:26 left in the game, when Bernard fumbled the ball back to Tom Brady at the Bengals 44.
Until that point, he had been everything the Bengals needed in what they hoped was the last drive of the game, gliding past a defense that was on the field for 35 minutes. Bernard had carried four straight times to start the drive for a first down and to set up the Bengals on a third-and-two.
He got that, too, when quarterback Andy Dalton made a resourceful play scrambling out of the pocket and finding Bernard in the flat on the sidelines for a six-yard pickup.
Then Bernard got the ball a sixth straight time, a one-yard gain that ended when cornerback Devin McCourty forced the fumble when he put his helmet on the ball.
"It wasn't the glove, it wasn't the rain or anything like that," Bernard said. "Little mistakes I have to work on. I have to keep two hands on the ball."
Fumble or no fumble, Bernard is everything the Bengals had hoped. The running game is nowhere near where the Bengals want it, but after five games Bernard has emerged as the NFL's top rookie back and one of his team's biggest threats.
He and Green-Ellis are tied for 27th in the NFL in rushing with 209 yards. Bernard has 45 carries, Green-Ellis 71. That projects to each finishing with 669. The last time the Bengals had two backs with at least that many yards came from the fabled Super Bowl duo of Ickey Woods (1,066) and James Brooks (931) in 1988.
Bernard also has a 59-yard lead on Green Bay's Eddie Lacy among rookie running backs. And his 14 catches lead all rookie backs.
"It stinks; it's not fun," Bernard said of watching Brady get the ball he fumbled. "It's one of the best team sports in the world and (the defense) helped us, especially me. I'll have to give them a reward at the end of the season."
His 4.6 yards per carry are doing that right now.
But the turnovers have to stop. The Bengals have 11 in the first five games and are on pace for 35, one more than the high under Marvin Lewis, which is 34 in 2010.
But somehow the Bnegals have already strung together seven touchdown drives of at least 80 yards and four of 90. They had 19 TDs of at least 80 the past two years combined.