There was no sign of Bengals wide receiver A.J. Green in the locker room or on the practice field Thursday, not unexpected given his schedule of meetings with specialists in the wake of re-aggravating his big toe in Wednesday's warmups.
But it still makes him a big doubtful for Sunday's 1 p.m. game against the Panthers at Paul Brown Stadium.
Various media outlets reported as much Thursday afternoon after Green met with noted Cincinnati foot specialist James Amis. He doesn't appear to have any more appointments this week, but the question isn't about this Sunday. It's about the next couple of weeks and if they decide to shut him down in order to get him ready for the stretch.
If there's a Greenout, there won't be a blackout after the club announced Thursday enough seats were sold to televise the game locally on Fox affiliates Channel 19 in Cincinnati, Channel 45 in Dayton, Ohio, and Channel 56 in Lexington, Ky.
While the Bengals have accepted an NFL option to have blackouts lifted this season with 85 percent of non-premium tickets sold, good seats on all three levels remain for purchase at the Bengals Ticket Hotline during business hours at 513-621-8383 or toll free at 866-621-8383. Tickets also can be purchased at any time through Bengals.com.
A NAME: You never, ever see special teams coordinators mentioned in the first wave of head coaching candidates. In college or the NFL. But now that the mushroom cloud hanging over Charlie Weis' firing at Kansas nearly two weeks ago is starting to clear, Bengals special teams coordinator Darrin Simmons has to be appearing on some short lists.
A native of Elkhart, Kan., who punted for Kansas from 1993-95 while becoming an academic All-American, Simmons has 17 seasons of NFL coaching experience, the last 13 with the Bengals as one of the league's more consistently productive special teams coaches.
"There are examples of guys in the NFL right now, like the coach in Baltimore,' said linebacker Vincent Rey, the Bengals special teams co-captain. "They understand the entire game. They understand the NFL is about field position because everyone is so evenly matched."
John Harbaugh, the long-time Eagles special teams coach who head coached the Ravens to the Super Bowl title a few years ago, went a long way in removing the stigma that teams coaches always get passed over for offense and defense. Other than the head coach and strength coach, a special teams coach is the only other coach that works with virtually every player on the team.
Simmons had no comment on such potential lists and Rey doesn't want to lose to him. They went into the New England game ranked second in a compilation of the NFL's top ten major special teams categories, a stat they led the NFL in 2012 and finished in the top 12 last year.
"I'd advocate for him to be a big-time coach, but selfishly I want him to be my coach," Rey said. "He's very demanding and the reason he's very demanding is he expects a lot out of us and we appreciate that. I think players anywhere would like him. We like him here. He's gotten a lot out of me."
ROLL CALL: It wasn't exactly a full first-team offense Thursday. Marvin Jones, the other starting wide receiver, again wasn't on the rehab field and just stood on the side. Starting left tackle Andrew Whitworth and starting left guard Clint Boling had their weekly days of rest for their knees and a day after he returned to practice limited starting right guard Kevin Zeitler (calf) went back to the rehab field.
But Zeitler moved well enough to look like he may have a shot to play Sunday, pending what he does Friday. Mike Pollak (knee), his replacement, returned after his weekly rest day Wednesday.
Backup defensive tackle Brandon Thompson worked on the rehab field for the first time Thursday since injuring his knee Sept. 14 in the Atlanta victory. Starting WILL linebacker Vontaze Burfict (concussion) strung two straight full practices for the first time since that game. Three players who were limited Wednesday were also limited Thursday: starting safety George Iloka (abdomen), starting middle linebacker Rey Maualuga (shoulder) and backup linebacker Vincent Rey (calf).
The Panthers have been decimated at running back abd now it looks like they may not have Jonathan Stewart for Sunday. He was limited Thursday and head coach Ron Rivera didn't sound hopeful to local media. That would leave them with two former Cleveland running backs in Chris Ogbonnaya and Fozzy Whittaker.
ALL WRIGHT: The Green injury hits them on so many levels. As left tackle Andrew Whitworth said Thursday, if it's a close game, someone is going to have to fill the void of a playmaker that can win it for you with just one move. Just search "Cincinnati at Baltimore, Sept. 7."
And you know how stuff runs downhill. With Green out, that leaves them just four wide receivers and one of them, rookie James Wright, plays all four special teams. They clearly think he's on the come because they gave him a career-high 20 snaps in New England Sunday night, but there is a ways to go. He had one target and no catches. He has been watching Green.
"Just treat every rep like a game rep. Go as hard as I can go," Wright said before Thursday's practice. "A.J. goes hard in practice. It's no surprise that he does what he does in games. He does it all the time in practice day in and day out….Every day I just get up and try to get better."
One of the reasons they like him is because, as offensive coordinator Hue Jackson said, "It's not too big for him."
A veteran of LSU bigness, he seemed unfazed by Sunday night against Brady and the Pats.
"It's football," Wright said. "I don't really see the stage. I don't really feel the pressure."
FORTT CHECKS IN: As new Bengals linebacker Khari Fortt finished an interview in the locker room and went to a meeting before Thursday's practice, ProFootballtalk.com posted a story from the New Orleans Times-Picayune that said the Saints cut him last week after he missed several meetings.
Before then, when he was asked if he had an idea why the Saints cut him, Fortt said the Saints told him, "They were going a different route. That's part of the business. They had a change of heart. They did what was best for their team."
Fortt missed most of Wednesday's practice a day after the Bengals claimed him, but that was because he was tied up getting a physical that cleared him. He was the Saints' designated player to return off injured reserve, but he said his hamstring has been healed well enough to play since the first week of the season.
A fourth-round pick out of California, Fortt said he was uncertain he'd be able to play on special teams Sunday with just two practices under his belt.
"I'm still getting settled, getting my playbook. I'm catching up with stuff from minicamp," Fortt said. "I know it looks easy looking at it, but there is strategy to it and they want to make sure I know what I'm doing running down there. If not this week, definitely next week."