Updated: 6:10 p.m.
It doesn't even help to knock on wood.
Here the Bengals were feeling great Thursday when they had everybody on the practice field, but that's where they apparently had an injury and the club isn't saying how serious. Rookie wide receiver Mohamed Sanu, the team's hottest target next to Pro Bowl wide receiver A.J. Green, appeared to have suffered a foot injury because he was listed as limited and is meeting with the team's medical staff Friday morning.
Sanu has caught the first four touchdown passes of his career in the last three games that have been the first three starts of his career and the Bengals have clicked for touchdowns on 11 of their last 13 red-zone trips with Sanu scoring three of them on third down.
Sanu plays mainly in the slot on third down and Andrew Hawkins, the slot receiver that began the season, has missed the last two games after he injured his knee in practice two weeks ago. He returned to the field Wednesday and has been limited. Rookie wide receiver Marvin Jones, who missed a month with a sprained knee, returned last week and played nine snaps in last Sunday's win over the Raiders.
The Bengals had no one on Nick Field on Thursday, which is the domain of rehab chief Nick Cosgray. So while the Chargers had six players listed as not practicing or limited on Thursday, the Bengals had everybody working. Also listed as limited were cornerback Terence Newman (shoulder), center Kyke Cook (ankle) and tight end Richard Quinn (hamstring). Running back Cedric Peerman (neck) and defensive tackle Pat Sims (thigh) were elevated to full go.
It's the third straight week the Bengals have gone up against teams that have been beat up, particularly on the offensive line. The Chargers are down to their fourth left tackle in undrafted rookie Mike Harris, and starting left guard Tyronne Green (hamstring) was limited Wednesday but went full Thursday.
Regulars at inside linebacker Donald Butler (groin) wide receiver Eddie Royal (hamstring) and tight end Dante Rosario (hamstring) didn't work. Butler and Royal aren't expected to go. Free safety Eric Weddle (concussion) knocked for a loop on Ravens running back Ray Rice's fourth-and-29 catch-and-run for the conversion last Sunday, was full go and is expected to go Sunday. Earlier in the week the Chargers put strong safety Atari Bigby on season-ending injured reserve.
But the Bengals look pretty healthy and while safety Chris Crocker says no one is fresh this late in an NFL season, they can be revived. Crocker agreed the Bengals look nimbler than they did last season, when they went 2-3 to finish the season.
"I think we have a lot more depth, especially in the secondary; we just have a lot more guys we can throw in there," Crocker said before Thursday's practice. "I don't think we are fresher, this point in the year. We are in the same boat (with every team); it's just how healthy are you. How many guys do you have up? How many starters do you have up?"
Crocker, 32, admits he feels better than he has the previous three seasons. He didn't come to camp until the fourth week of the regular season and the knee that hampered him during last year's late run was surgically repaired in the offseason.
"Yeah, I feel normal. I just feel like a normal guy and I can play at a high level," Crocker said when asked if it's the best he's felt in three years. "Especially as a DB, you have a knee or ankle, you run every play. Cut, break, change direction, you are really limited with what you can do with an injury like that."
He says it's important to practice even this late in the year in order to maintain chemistry with the other DBs.
"I've been beat up the last three seasons. I am enjoying this year, I really am, being able to go out there each week and play at a high level and just help do what I know I'm capable of doing," said Crocker, who has sprung off the couch to lead the team with three interceptions. "It's a good feeling when you don't have to come in here on Monday and Tuesday and Wednesday and can't practice. Thursday you maybe can practice and then Friday get a little bit of practice. It's hard to deal with that when you don't get the repetitions in practice each week and try to go out there and just play.
"But you haven't been next to a Leon (Hall) or Nate (Clements); you lose that chemistry just like a quarterback getting his timing on the deep ball. As a secondary you have to play off guys and play off of each other. You don't get that sometimes when you don't practice when you are hurt."
ZIMMER EVENT: Former Bengals safety Roy Williams is in town Thursday night to help defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer and the Marvin Lewis Communuty Fund (MLCF) celebrate the life of Zimmer's late wife Vikki at an event at the Ascent in Covington, Ky.
The event is sponsored in part by Rise Clothing and features the debut of its website riseclothing.com. Tickets can be purchased at marvinlewis.org/rise.aspx with proceeds going to MLCF.
Lewis is expected to be in attendance, as is Zimmer and several of his current players: cornerback Leon Hall, middle linebacker Rey Maualuga, defensive tackle Domata Peko, cornerback Terence Newman, and safety Chris Crocker.
BENGALS GET ANIMATED: NFL Rush Zone: Season of the Guardians, the first-ever original half-hour animated series jointly developed by a cable network and major U.S sports league, premieres Friday but the Bengals don't get their call until the 24th and last episode in August.
The second season of Nickelodeon's and the NFL's co-produced series comprises 24 half-hour episodes and debuts with a one-hour premiere at 9 p.m. Friday on Nicktoons with an encore on NFL Network, Saturday at 7 a.m. The show airs regularly Fridays at 9 p.m. on Nicktoons and Saturdays at 7 a.m. on NFL Network.
The NFL says in a press release that the second season of the Nicktoons series – based on NFLRUSH ZONE, the NFL's online world for kids – follows Ish and friends from his youth tackle football league on a journey to protect all the league's teams and the world from a plotting master villain. Season two begins with Ish and his family relocating to Canton, Ohio, home of the Pro Football Hall of Fame. He quickly learns new foes, Wild Card and his wingman, Drop Kick, are targeting the NFL teams' Megacores – the essence of each team, its fans and its community – and the Core itself in an attempt to destroy the league and ultimately the world.
According to the release, in the Bengals episode, "Marty and his big brother Harper have some sibling issues to work out as they head from Canton to Cincinnati to see Marty's favorite pop music group, The Awesome Band (TAB) in concert.
"But there's more than one bump in the road when Drop Kick and his Shrieking Blitz Bot attempt to steal the Bengals Megacore even though it's the offseason. Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton and tight end Jermaine Gresham jump in to help the Guardians."
During the series NFL players and coaches voice their animated personas, including Pro Football Hall of Famers Jim Brown, Richard Dent and Mike Ditka.