Bengals right tackle Andre Smith (concussion) became the first offensive starter to miss a game because of injury this season when the unbeaten Bengals ruled him out of Thursday's game (8:25 p.m.-Cincinnati's Channel 12 and NFL Network) against the Browns.
He joins safety George Iloka, who missed the Kansas City game with an ankle injury, as the only starters not to play in 2015. Eleven-year vet Eric Winston figures to get the start and this has happened before. When Winston joined the Bengals last season in the wake of Smith's season-ending triceps injury, his first extended action came when he took 36 snaps in the 30-0 victory in Cleveland.
Middle linebacker Rey Maualuga (calf) left when he was dinged early in the first drive last Sunday, went limited for the first time this week on Wednesday, and was listed as questionable. Vincent Rey would no doubt start in his place after he moved in there against the Steelers and had eight tackles.
Also listed as questionable is left end Carlos Dunlap (shoulder), but he returned for the last drive against the Steelers after getting hurt moments before and also went limited every day this week.
As expected the Browns ruled out five regulars officially on Wednesday. No. 1 receiver Brian Hartline, slot receiver Andrew Hawkins, and safety Donte Whitner all sit because of concussions, joining cornerback Joe Haden (concussion, ankle) and quarterback Josh McCown (throwing shoulder, ribs).
P.B. AIRS: NFL Network premiers *Paul Brown: A Football Life *Friday at 9 p.m. in an hour-long look at the Bengals founder who had a Hall-of-Fame coaching career with the Cleveland franchise he molded into the NFL's first dynasty.
Among the many interviewed for the documentary are Bengals president Mike Brown, two former Bengals quarterbacks in Ken Anderson and Sam Wyche, Patriots head coach Bill Belichick, former Dolphins head coach Don Shula, and former U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, whose football coach father turned her into a lifelong fan of the Browns. Also interviewed is actress Patricia Heaton, whose father Chuck covered Brown as The Cleveland Plain-Dealer's highly-regarded beat man.
Every episode of A Football Life – as well as all NFL Network programming – is streamed live on the NFL Mobile from Verizon app (NFL.com/mobile), the NFL app delivered on XBOX from Microsoft, and through Watch NFL Network (NFL.com/watch), with participating cable and satellite providers.
BOOMER DELIVERY: With the Bengals playing the Browns Thursday on the national stage, former Cincinnati quarterback Boomer Esiason's trip back to East Islip High School heads up the NFL's weekly Super Bowl High School Honor Roll segment.
The visit is featured on CBS This Morning Thursday and during coverage of* Thursday Night Football,* and on the Network's Sunday pregame show, "The NFL Today," of which Esiason is a host.
This year in honor of the 50th Super Bowl, high schools across the nation and around the world receive a commemorative Wilson Golden Football for every player or head coach who graduated from their school and was on an active Super Bowl roster. Nearly 3,000 players and head coaches, and more than 2,000 high schools, are to be recognized.
Players and coaches also have the opportunity to deliver golden footballs to their schools and that's what Esiason did this week when he gave it to his coach at East Islip, Sal Ciampi Sr. Esiason, who led the Bengals to Super Bowl XXIII as the NFL's 1988 MVP, also participated in a pep rally and spoke on what high school football meant to him and what it meant to play in a Super Bowl.