Updated: 11-1-12, 4:15 p.m.
A typical early November day looks to be in store for the Bengals' fourth sellout in four Paul Brown Stadium games this season when they host the Broncos (1 p.m.-Cincinnati's Channel 12) and their newly-crowned AFC Offensive Player of the Month Peyton Manning.
The National Weather Service in Wilmington, Ohio is calling for 50 degrees at kickoff and while it's too early to forecast the wind there is no chance of rain under partly sunny skies.
A limited number of tickets, from visiting-team returns and in obstructed-view areas, remain available, the Bengals said Thursday. They may be purchased at the Bengals Ticket Hotline—866-621-8383 (TDTD)—or by clicking here.
A wider range of tickets, including all three stadium levels, remain available for the Nov. 11 game at 1 p.m. against the Super Bowl champion Giants.
ROLL CALL: It's looking more and more like rookie wide receiver Marvin Jones (knee) won't play Sunday. For the second straight day he was on the rehab field. Defensive end/SAM linebacker Dontay Moch, who missed Wednesday because of an illness, also wasn't participating.
ONE FOR THUMB: Always quotable Jay Gruden, the Bengals offensive coordinator, isn't paying much attention to Manning's thumb injury:
"If it is just a fingernail or something like that, he's played with a lot worse injuries. I think he's playing with a broken spine or something right now. He's a tough guy, they don't call him the sheriff for anything, he's dominated the position for a lot of years and I don't think a fingernail will hurt him."
ZIMMER ON DRE: It sure sounded as if first-round pick Dre Kirkpatrick had been ticketed to make his debut Sunday. But defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer sounded extremely cautious Thursday about him replacing one of his veteran cornerbacks on the 46-man active sheet. Jason Allen has missed all but one game as he battles a quad problem, but with 11 DBs the Bengals would probably have to deactivate two others DBs in addition to Allen to make room for Kirkpatrick. They are looking to be as versatile as possible against Peyton Manning's no-huddle, not to mention experienced.
And Adam Jones, who has been playing with starting corners Leon Hall and Terence Newman, gives the Bengals a return threat. Beyond Allen and rookie safety George Iloka, finding a third DB to put down other than Kirkppatrick is tough because the Bengals are going to need all the safeties they can get against Manning.
The Bengals could dress nine DBs, but they would have to go lighter on the D-line or linebacker and that would seem unlikely for pass rush and special teams purposes.
While Zimmer does say Kirkpatrick is "geting better," he won't say when he'll play and he didn't exactly make it sound like it was going to be on Sunday.
"One of these days. We'll see. When he keeps proving it every day in practice. Things happen," Zimmer said. "It's kind of what I told him today. He'll get his chance. He's just got to keep practicing hard and learning what he's supposed to do and how to do it correctly."
GRUDEN ON DALTON: Here's how immersed a coordinator can get during the week. When asked Thursday what he thought about what head coach Marvin Lewis said the day before, Gruden jokingly wondered if he'd been fired. He wasn't aware that Lewis had challenged both quarterback Andy Dalton and middle linebacker Rey Mauauluga to take control of the team by jumping out of their nice-guy skins at times.
Gruden said that Lewis is trying to make the bar higher during preparation snd practice.
"What he's trying to get at is we can't just let average sink in and be OK. I think we have to demand more of each other all the time, not accept 3-4," Gruden said before Thursday's practice. "Not accept an average play, a poor route, a dropped ball, bad tempo. We all have to step on the gas a little bit and expect more. If I let that creep into the building offensively then I am the one who should be shaken up a little bit. I have tried to keep a steady approach and I don't think effort has been an issue, but if it is then other players can step up and take the leadership role as well as Andy."
Gruden said he doesn't expect the business-like Dalton to change his stripes as he becomes more assertive.
"I think it's important for him to be himself where he is more comfortable in his own skin and play the game, learn the offense, make decisions without having to worry about 'Oh, it's time to yell at somebody,' " Gruden said. "That's just not his style. He needs to lead by example. When we are winning everybody is happy with the way he leads. When we lose, things need to change a little bit. We just need to pick up our intensity level, convert on some third downs, make some plays happen and everybody will be happy."
Gruden continues to sound the theme that Dalton is only going to be good as the people around him. He may have the second-most interceptions in the NFL with 10, but the running game is ranked 23rd, the Bengals are next-to-last on third down, and they are ranked 20th in the red zone.
"He's fine. I know that the offense knows who is in charge of the offense. It's Andy. He's in control," Gruden said. "He may not yell at people or cuss anybody out but that doesn't mean he's not an effective leader.
"We need to be more effective everywhere, offensive line, running backs, receivers, tight ends, not just him. I think there are other guys who can step up and lead by example by dominating their position and nobody is doing that right now at any position other than maybe A.J. (Green) who's made his big plays."
NFL AND PLAYERS PLEDGE: The National Football League and the NFL Players Association have jointly pledged $1 million to the American Red Cross to aid in relief and recovery efforts in the northeast to assist those impacted by Hurricane Sandy.
In addition, the NFL and its network television partners plan to run pregame and in-game messages and mentions to promote donations during this weekend's games, beginning with Thursday Night Football on NFL Network. Prior to the national anthem, clubs plan to recognize those hit by the storm and salute first responders and others involved with the relief effort.
Also planned are on-air mentions and a crawl on the bottom of the screen during portions of all games on all networks pointing fans to the American Red Cross website (redcross.org) and a text-to-give line (text REDCROSS to 90999) to give a $10 donation.