Hard to believe that no Bengal has been in the NFL longer than kicker Mike Nugent, but in his 10 previous seasons he has yet to kick in Oakland's O.co Coliseum.
But he has kicked once in a baseball-football venue and it was, on all days, the 2008 opener in the old Miami stadium when he had to deal with kicking off dirt. He doesn't expect problems in Sunday's opener (4:25 p.m.-Cincinnati's-Channel 12 against the Raiders.
Bengals special teams coach Darrin Simmons directed "dirty," workouts this past Sunday and Monday when Nugent kicked off the "warning track," of cinders and clay lining one of the practice fields.
"I think it's going to be a lot better out there than on the warning track," Nugent said. "On the warning track my foot would slip out."
Nugent and holder Kevin Huber think the dirt is going to be harder on the field and with no rain predicted, there should be no problem.
"It doesn't seem like guys are changing much," Nugent said. "Where ever the ball is, you have to think it's not going to be a crazy different kick."
Simmons anticipates no problems for his kickers and thinks it's a plus they'll be working out on the field Saturday. Position players like cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick are aware of the dirt but don't fret about it.
"I don't usually go out (to warmups) early, but I will Sunday," Kirkpatrick said. "I just want to make sure I've got the right shoes."
Ironically, Nugent suffered the worst injury of his career on that field in Miami when he tore a quad muscle and it had nothing to do with the dirt. He has since torn his ACL and missed the last month of the season with a muscle injury. But quad cost him his job with the Jets, the team that drafted him in the second round in 2005.
"Still don't know why it happened," Nugent said.
Nugent, 33, made sure there would be no such replays this season. He tweaked his hamstring early in camp, came back too soon a few days later, and didn't kick a field goal in a game until the preseason finale, when he was good from 41 and 35 yards.
"I did a lot strengthening. I feel great. I had a great week this week," he said. "I wouldn't want to go into a season without kicking one ball in preseason. Actually, it was just extra points in the Chicago game and then I got a few field goals and kicks in Indy. . . .It was good for me to get out on the field and get some experience."
Nugent is matched up against one of the NFL's constants, 16-year man Sebastian Janikowski, whom kicked his first NFL field goal when Nugent was an Ohio State freshman. Nugent has been talking about kicking for 20 years and notes that at age 37, Janikowski "isn't slowing down." It took Janikowski just 15 seasons to kick 48 field goals of at least 50 yards, second all-time, and he's just five shy of Jason Hanson's record compiled in 21 years.
But Nugent doesn't see it as man-on-man.
"He could kick two extra points and I could kick nine field goals and we could both be perfect," Nugent said. "It's a lot like golf. You compare some statistics, but it's you against the course."
LOGAN'S RUN: Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis hosted a special guest at Friday's practice in conjunction with the Bengals relationship with Cincinnati's Children's Hospital. Schneider, 12, an eighth-grader at Delhi's St. Teresa of Avila School, is in remission from leukemia and hooked up again with his favorite player. Quarterback Andy Dalton met Schneider at Children's.
"He told me it was cool seeing me again after seeing me three years ago," Schneider said.
With Lewis looking on approvingly, Schneider met the media.
"Good practice," Schneider said as if he did this every day. "It's huge compared to sitting in the stands. It's a cool experience."
Everyone gets a chance to see what Schneider saw. He wore a go pro during his visit and the video is set to go on the scoreboards during Sunday's home opener against the Chargers.
ALDON QUESTION: Aldon Smith, the troubled Pro Bowl sacker, signed with the Raiders late this week and there's talk of him playing Sunday even though he faces a bevy of misdemeanor charges stemming from the incident that led to his release from the 49ers last month.
Lewis didn't have much to say about facing Smith and seemed surprised that he could play given he hasn't been with a team for a month.
"It's a waste of my time to talk about something out of my control," Lewis said.