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Notes: Ogbuehi set to practice; Winston dons a few hats; Iloka appeals fine


No. 70 makes his practice debut Tuesday for offensive line coach Paul Alexander.

A total of 194 days after the Bengals took Texas A&M left tackle Cedric Ogbuehi with the 21st pick in the draft, he'll practice for the first time Tuesday when they begin preparations for the Texans a week from Monday (8:30 p.m.-Cincinnati's Channel 5 ESPN) at Paul Brown Stadium.

Such is the word from Andrew Whitworth, the starting left tackle.

"He's ready to practice and I'm excited for him," Whitworth said.

Cincinnati Bengals host Cleveland Browns in week 9 of the regular season.

The Bengals are bringing along Ogbuehi slowly as he comes back from the ACL tear he suffered in the last game of his college career in late December. They don't need to rush him into the lineup this year and they've extended Whitworth one more season. But they are anxious to see Ogbuehi practice even though they're not in a hurry to activate him.

He's on injured reserve/NFI and, like Vontaze Burfict, they have three weeks to make a decision on him once he practices. But they're not looking to activate him for the Texans.

Ogbuehi said a month ago he was ready to practice and now he can. He said he's been watching and listening to Whitworth since he got here.

"He told me to believe in your techniques," Ogbuehi said. "Be patient and confident with the techniques and don't do anything differently."

TAKE THE MIKE:Bengals tackle Eric Winston spent his off Sunday in Bristol, Conn., as a talking head at ESPN and even though he's very good at it, he's still not sure if being a TV analyst is in his future. But after breaking down the Steelers-Raiders game on air after the Bengals beat both this season, one thing he is sure about is he's surprised the Steelers won a tight game with 73 points on the board.

"I didn't think it would be that high scoring," said Winston, back at work Monday. "The Raiders are cooking so I'm not surprised they scored, I'm just surprised how many deep balls they got on them. They schemed it up really well up front and blocked them well. But the Steelers found a way to win and that's impressive."

Winston made his first start of the season on Thursday in place of right tackle Andre Smith (concussion) and if he's back on the bench Monday, the Bengals still have a 10-year source of veteran leadership. Like his team that seeks a fifth straight play-berth, when it comes to post-season runs he's got experience. He won a division crown in Houston and was on a 10-6 Arizona team that didn't make the playoffs, as well as last year's Wild Card start for the Bengals.

So he found himself loving the talk about how never before have there been three 8-0 teams.

"It's nice being on the other side," Winston said.  "Unfortunately in my career I've been on the side that's struggling at 4-4 and when you're 6-2 you're happy as a clam. This has been a lot of fun."

But Winston thought head coach Marvin Lewis sent out a good message Monday morning when they re-grouped after the weekend. And you don't have to be an ESPN analyst. Just a 10-year vet.

"Marvin said it best. Eight is not enough," Winston said. "If you go 8-8, no one cares. Or if you finish 10-6, it's not that good. You have to re-focus and keep doing what we've been doing.

"We have some tough road games," Winston said of the final eight games. "You play to put yourself in position to play on prime time and to play in big games in this league if you don't relish that, you're probably not in the right business. You want to play big-time opponents and test yourself and we're going to get plenty of tests."

Starting Monday, when the Bengals play the 3-5 Texans, the team for which Winston made 87 starts from 2006-2011. These aren't those Texans ("They've really cleaned house. I think five guys are left from when I was there"), but Winston is impressed with the defense and that all starts with a rookie tackle that arrived his last year in Houston.

Cincinnati Ben-Gal Cheerleaders perform during the Cleveland Browns vs. Cincinnati Bengals game 11/06/2015

"You knew he was going to be a great player then. You better bring the cavalry if you want to get in front of him,' he said of J.J. Watt. "They've got a lot of good players. I think Brian Cushing has worked out really well at linebacker. (OLB Whitney) Mercilus is a first-round pick that's coming on. (OLB) Jadeveon (Clowney) is a first pick overall. So they've got good talent, they just haven't put it together yet and you don't want them to put it together against you. It's like Indianapolis. They turned their season around last night beating Denver and I'm sure Houston is looking at us the same way."

And it won't get any easier.

"We've got the rest of the division games, tough games in Denver and Arizona and going out to San Francisco. Changing time zones is never easy," Winston said. "And St. Louis is a good slugging team that's coming in here. We've got our hands full."

 DOUBLE DUTY:During his appearance on the world-wide leader, Winston had to also wear his hat as president of the NFL Players Association in wake of the Greg Hardy story. Winston had set up the ESPN gig 10 days in advance, so he had no idea the story of Deadspin releasing photos from Hardy's domestic violence case would dominate Sunday's news. Winston admitted it was an unpleasant subject, but part of his job to discuss it. He stressed the union's job is to uphold the collective bargaining agreement and that means all of it, not just certain parts of it.

"I'm sure everyone would rather talk about football. I'd rather talk about 99.9 percent of our membership that does nothing wrong and does great things in the community," Winston said on Monday. "We have a legal obligation to represent our members. When there's a violation of the CBA, because of precedent, it's just not one case that comes down the road, it's many that come down the road."

Winston said the NFLPA is for punishment as well as for getting players help. But ultimately the union doesn't make the call.

"We don't decide who is able to play. Those are the teams. In this case the Dallas Cowboys," Winston said. "The union has never been in a situation to dictate who has jobs or not."


George Iloka is appealing his fine on a helmet-to-helmet hit on Steelers tight end Heath Miller.

FINE MESS:Bengals safety George Iloka is appealing his $23,152 fine for a helmet-to-helmet hit on Steelers tight end Heath Miller in the Nov. 1 win in Pittsburgh.

 "I thought it was a clean hit. I didn't leave my feet," Iloka said. "I made contact with my shoulder to his shoulder. In football, your head will hit just because of momentum. It will make them touch. But I didn't target his neck or head area. I thought that's what the rule was. Whatever it is, it is. I've already moved on from it. If they take it, oh well, whatever. Hopefully we'll make a few playoff games and I'll make up for it that way. If they rescind it, that's a good call."

Iloka, one of the Bengals' hardest hitters, has been nailed before but he insists he's playing within the new rules of the past few years that have lowered the tackling target.

"I wouldn't lie. If it was college, in those days defenders used to probably try to hit you up high and knock you out type of thing. Now I try to hit guys hard, but hit them hard here," said Iloka, pointing to the upper chest. "You get the same kind of impact. You can jar the ball loose if you hit a guy in his chest. I've had quite a few big hits since I've been here, quite a bit of fines. But a lot of them have gotten rescinded because the coaching and how they've taught me how to hit.

"It's hard for refs to make that call at game-time speed. That's why you try not to get mad. That's why you saw in the game when they called it, I was like 'whatever.' I'll deal with it some other time. We'll look at the film and if I hit him, then fine me. If didn't hit him in his head, then don't fine me."

NO TEXANS HOLD 'EM:The 25-year-old Iloka is a Houston native, but don't ask him about the Texans. He's old enough to remember the Oilers. When they played their last game against the Bengals in the Astrodome, Iloka was six.

"I know I'll have more family and more friends and local people from Houston watching because they'll be watching the Texans, not me," Iloka said. "The Oilers were my squad. By the time the Texans came around I was already in college and kind of past having a team, so to say."

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