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Notes: Maualuga rehabbing; Lewis enjoys Tez's dynamite play; Manziel expected to go


With no sign of right tackle Andre Smith (concussion) on the practice field and middle linebacker Rey Maualuga (calf) on the side rehabbing, normal indications are they won't be ready for Thursday's game (8:25 p.m.-NFL Network) against Cleveland at Paul Brown Stadium.

But it's a short week not a normal week and for the second straight day of preparation they were in ball caps instead of helmets. So it's hard to gauge how it comes out for those two. But left end Carlos Dunlap (shoulder), limited on Monday, was on the field, and Tuesday's injury report didn't change.


After Tuesday's practice Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis defended linebacker Vontaze Burifct's tackle of Steelers running back Le'Veon Bell as he recounted Burfict's remarkable 2015 debut in last Sunday's 16-10 victory at Heinz Field.

Steelers offensive lineman Ramon Foster ripped Burfict for what he said was a celebration of the hit where Bell suffered a season-ending torn MCL in his knee. Another Steeler tweeted and then deleted an off-season threat to Burfict, according to The Steelers are headed to Paul Brown Stadium Dec. 13 for what is now a grudge match destined to be as ugly as Sunday's slugfest.   

"That's the guy (Burfict) is,' Foster told

 But Burfict and the Bengals claim there was no malice intended. It's the second straight year Bell has suffered a season-ending knee injury against the Bengal.

 "I've seen Vontaze do that many a time," Lewis said. "The celebration was the fact that, 'I ran over and made the tackle.' That was his celebration.

"To me, that's what struck me when he did what he did: 'I just ran over and made a tackle.' I don't think anybody realized Le'Veon was hurt at the time . . . We don't want to see anybody get hurt on anybody's squad."

And the play certainly didn't take away Lewis' admiration for what Burfict accomplished on Sunday. He played 36 snaps on just one practice after coming back from a knee injury of his own that kept him sidelined for more than a year. A major reason he survived is because of his off-the-charts football acumen.

 "Oh that's incredible, yeah. He's essential," Lewis said. "He showed that when he wasn't playing. I could be talking to a guy and he could tell him exactly what I was trying to give the guy, the exact principle I was trying to relate to. And he could handle it and reinforce it because he understands it like a coach does."

But what had Lewis shaking his head Tuesday is his intensity and abandon when asked about Burfict's attention-to-detail in the scheme.

"I don't know if you'd use the word perfectionist unless perfectionists use dynamite," Lewis said. "But that's the kind of perfection he would have. He's not quite a sniper, he's more of the blast guy. He's not a sniper, he's a breacher. He's a first-off-the-boat guy."


With Josh McCown not practicing Tuesday, the Browns expect to start Johnny Manziel at quarterback  Thursday. The Bengals shut him out back in November and they're also expected not to see starting safety Donte Whitner, No. 1 receiver Brian Hartline and slot receiver Andrew Hawkins, all battling concussions.

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