Updated: 6:15 p.m.
The Bengals got good news on the medical front Thursday when rookie wide receiver Marvin Jones returned to practice for the first time since spraining a knee in the opening minutes of the Steelers game Oct. 21. He was listed as limited.
Plus, center Kyle Cook, sidelined since ankle surgery late in the preseason, surfaced for the first time on Nick Field and worked vigorously under the direction of rehab trainer Nick Cosgray.
Cook is still on the injured recall reserve list and hasn't been cleared to practice. He's eligible to return to practice and play in a game, which he can do at any point when healthy. Once he returns to practice, there's a 21-day window to activate him. If he's not active at the end of those three weeks, he's out for the year, but the Bengals are hoping he's back for at least the last month.
One thing that came out of the injury is that the Bengals have found a rookie free-agent center in Trevor Robinson that is smart and mobile and a guy they think has a bright future.
"He hasn't batted an eye, but as the games get tougher and tougher like they're getting this time of year, it'd be great to have a veteran center in there," offensive coordinator Jay Gruden said after Thursday's practice. "But Trevor has handled it extremely well. People have thrown a lot at him. It's great to see him adjust and react to the environment and the tough blitzes that he's seen."
Yet Robinson is making his third NFL start. Cook's next start is going to be his 49th and that kind of experience is invaluable.
"He's the guy when you see start seeing a lot of these crazy blitz looks," Gruden said of Cook's value. "The Rob Ryans (blitzes) and some of these other teams. To have a center that's been in there and poised and can make all the calls and communication issues you have, he calms everything down. He's the second quarterback out there."
Jones, a fifth-rounder out of California who ran by everybody in training camp, played sparingly in the first six games but was scheduled to play his most significant amount of snaps opposite A.J. Green against Pittsburgh. He got hurt right before the Bengals' first possession blocking on a kick return.
It sounds like Gruden would like Jones to get more snaps before rolling him back out there this week.
"He's got to get himself in shape both physically and mentally and make sure he's on top of the game with all of our audibles and checks and stuff," Gruden said. "Get a good full week of practice and we'll see where he is. I'm not looking to make a whole lot of changes, but if he's better than what we have out there, we have to give him a shot."
Jones would be added to what has turned into a rotation at the No. 2 receiver of what is now Brandon Tate and rookie Mohamed Sanu.
Also returning to practice Thursday were cornerback Adam Jones (calf) and defensive tackle Devon Still (back), but safety Reggie Nelson (hamstring) missed another day and spent it on Nick Field. Also back rehabbing was another fifth-rounder, cornerback Shaun Prater. Prater impressed early, but knee problems sidelined him almost as quickly and he went to injured reserve Aug. 24. Still went full and Adam Jones was limited. So were the guys who were also limited Wednesday: WILL backer Vontaze Burfict (elbow), defensive back Nate Clements (knee), safety Taylor Mays (knee), and center Jeff Faine (hamstring).
MORE CED:If you thought running back Cedric Peerman looked good enough against the Giants to warrant more carries as the Bengals seek more speed in the backfield to complement BenJarvus Green-Ellis, Gruden agrees. Peerman had a career-high six carries for 21 yards, as well as the team's longest run of the day on a nine-yarder.
"I think he will get more and more as the season goes on. It just depends on how the game goes and reps for Green-Ellis and if we're maintaining drives," Gruden said. "Then we can obviously use better substitution patterns with our backs. If you're three and out, then it's hard to get any kind of rhythm and use substitution. I think it's important to get Cedric some more touches. He's earned that right and gives us a little change of pace. He's done a good job."
CHIEF CONCERNS:Chiefs right guard Jon Asamoah is out for Sunday's game with thumb surgery and he'll be replaced by NFL veteran Russ Hochstein in his first start for the club since he signed in September after center Rodney Hudson went on season-ending injured reserve.
Although Chiefs head coach Romeo Crennel has said this week that Matt Cassel gets the start, if Brady Quinn (concussion) is cleared to play, there's some thinking out in Kansas City that both might end up playing quarterback against the Bengals on Sunday (1 p.m.-Cincinnati's Channel 12). Quinn, along with No. 1 wide receiver Dwayne Bowe (thigh) and No. 1 pick Dontari Poe (knee) at defensive tackle, went full Thursday. No. 2 receiver Jonathan Baldwin (concussion) didn't work and it doesn't look like he's playing.
Even though Cassel has had a hand in 19 turnovers over the last eight games, the Bengals know he went to the Pro Bowl two years ago.
"He has had good years and he's got a lot of weapons around him," said safety Taylor Mays, who knows the fellow USC product socially in SoCal. "They've got tremendous potential and they're a good offense."
Safety Chris Crocker says it's not going to matter much if it's Cassel or Quinn.
"Because they're so good at running the ball, you figure that's what they're going to do no matter what," Crocker said.
GILBERRY RETURNS: The Chiefs never told Wallace Gilberry why they didn't re-sign him this past offseason after he logged 14 sacks in three seasons for them as an end on passing downs, and Gilberry never asked.
And that's what it will be when Gilberrry returns with the Bengals this Sunday to Arrowhead Stadium.
"It's a business trip," Gilberry said before Thursday's practice. "At the end of the day there's going to be a lot of emotion, a lot of excitement, flying around, getting back to seeing my old guys. But we're going to win a football game. Once the ball is kicked off and the whistle is blown, that's for after the game."
There's no animosity here. Gilberry, who turns 28 next month, spent his first four seasons in Kansas City and had half of his sacks for the Chiefs in 2010. One came at Paul Brown Stadium against Carson Palmer in 2009.
But when the Chiefs drafted defensive tackle Dontari Poe with their first pick back in April, things got tight along the defense line for nickel snaps. Gilberry, who had 2.5 sacks in '11, got moved past.
As far as he knows, because the Chiefs never called.
"There are no hard feelings" he said. "Did I want to go back to Kansas City? Of course. I had residency there, friends on the team, I felt good in the community, but it's a tricky business. You can't get emotional or wrapped up in it. The business side took over. Now I'm in Cincinnati and enjoying it."
There had been a brief stay in Tampa, where he was cut before the second game and he didn't have to wait long because that's when Bengals backup right end Jamaal Anderson suffered a season-ending leg injury. Gilberry was at PBS that Tuesday.
Not only that, he's half a sack away from matching last year's 2.5, and he's coming off a sack and strip of the impenetrable Eli Manning last Sunday while playing a season-high 30 snaps against the team that signed him as a free agent out of Alabama in 2008 and cut him at the end of the preseason.
"There were a lot of plays out there," Gilberry said of the 70 snaps for the defense. "If Coach is comfortable with what you're doing and you're comfortable with what you're doing, he's more lenient to give you more snaps. So it was just one of those days."
Gilberry may not play against his old mates as much since he's primarily used on passing downs and the Chiefs figure to load up on the run. But he's fine with the one team on Sunday that did give him a call. He likes the looks of last Sunday's seven-man rotation up front that ranged from right end Michael Johnson's 60 snaps to the 24 for tackle Pat Sims.
"That's Coach Jay's decision," said Gilberry of line coach Jay Hayes. "If he tends to keep it like that getting what he wants (or) one-by-one, just go when your number is called and execute the defense."