Posted: 2:50 p.m.
Bengals quarterback Carson Palmer practiced Friday in team situations, but head coach Marvin Lewis wouldn't say if he'll start the regular-season finale Sunday in Kansas City with his injured groin. Pro Bowl cornerback Deltha O'Neal (knee) has been downgraded to doubtful and defensive lineman Carl Powell (neck) is out.
Tight end Reggie Kelly (wrist) returned to practice and is questionable. Fullback Nick Luchey (knee) and linebacker Marcus Wilkins (hand) practiced and were upgraded to probable.
Lewis did say after practice on the FieldTurf in Paul Brown Stadium that individual milestones such as Rudi Johnson's rush for 1,500 yards and wide receiver T.J. Houshmandzadeh's bid for 1,000 yards are part of Sunday's equation but won't come at the expense of the bigger playoff picture.
"We want to win our 12th game," Lewis said.
Breech (right) is a big fan of Graham.PRO BOWL KICKS: Jim Breech was once 34 seconds from being Super Bowl MVP and he finished his career in the NFL's top 10 in scoring, but he never made it to a Pro Bowl during the 13 seasons he became the Bengals' all-time leading scorer with 1,151 points.
But he was one of the first to call Shayne Graham last week when Graham became the first Bengal to get the nod, an honor he believes is going to be multiple.
"Now he's got his name in there with those guys and has the chance to go year in and year out," Breech said during Thursday's visit to the Bengals locker room. "If he keeps kicking like this, there's no reason he shouldn't."
Breech figures he was a Pro Bowl alternate once or twice and his successor, Doug Pelfrey, was the backup three or four times. But as he told Graham, "Kickers never miss going to a Pro Bowl. They always go."
ON A ROLL (Bengals record for consecutive field goals):
- 13, Shayne Graham, 2005 13, Graham, 2004 13, Doug Pelfrey, 1995 13, Pelfrey, 1993 13, Jim Breech, 1990
Still, Breech used to be a kicker on some high-scoring and high-profile offenses, just like current AFC Pro Bowl staples Mike Vanderjagt and Adam Vinatieri, but Graham made it with his AFC-best 128 points.
"Vinatieri's attempts are down and Vanderjagt's attempts are down," Breech said. "A lot of it is timing. One year someone just has a better year when you have a good one. One year we went 4-11, and you go with guys that are making meaningful kicks. One year Al Del Greco made 33 out of 36 and didn't make it."
Breech is a big fan of Graham's and they chat often. Everyone still likes "The Breecher," and Graham joked, "He sends me hate mail."
"I'll tell you what," Graham said, "the one time we had a head-to-head competition, he beat me."
The special teams corner of the locker room always gathers around when Breech stops by. Long snapper Brad St. Louis, who has known Breech for six years, greeted him like an old teammate even though St. Louis arrived eight seasons after Breech's last kick.
Breech likes to show up to offer encouragement at important moments. Last year he stopped in the week the Bengals went to Baltimore and won their first road game against a winning team in ages. Graham was also a kick away from breaking the record he shares with Breech and Pelfrey of 13 straight field goals, but Graham missed a 53-yarder on his first try in Baltimore. Breech doesn't worry about that. He knows the big thing is that Graham hit his next two in that game and the 24-yarder won it at the gun.
Still, it'd be a nice record to get. Three Bengals kickers have now reached 13 straight five times since 1990. Yes, that was the first year Breech did it and the last time the Bengals went to the playoffs, so the symmetry would be nice.
"I figured he was getting close," said Breech when told Graham had tied him again at 13. Then he nodded at Graham. "Just do it this time. Get it over with."
Graham smiled. It may be the No. 13 or it may be the record, but he already said it after last week's Buffalo game.
"I don't think I'm going to talk about it," Graham said.
Breech sees the similarities of the '05 offense compared to those of '88 and '90. But he's a big fan of cornerback Deltha O'Neal and his 10 interceptions.
"This defense has been incredible with its turnovers," said Breech, about to show his school colors. "Of course they have a corner from Cal."