Updated: 9:25 p.m.
The Bengals were hit with a bevy of injuries Wednesday and even though quarterback Carson Palmer (throwing shoulder) and wide receiver Chad Ochocinco (ankle) weren't on the practice field, the injury that has to concern them the most is the foot injury suffered by right tackle Andre Smith during practice.
After getting carted off the field, it is believed to be the same foot he broke three days into his rookie season, an injury that prevented him playing full time until the last three games. The injury took Smith out of the first 10 games of last season and when he had surgery on it back in January it wiped out all the spring drills and training camp for him.
Head coach Marvin Lewis had no information on Smith as he came off the field, but he indicated Palmer and Ocho will play Sunday. Smith was seen walking out of the building.
With Dennis Roland struggling at right tackle last month, Smith got promoted and has had a tough baptism against some of the NFL's elite rushers. He got benched for a play in the third quarter against Steelers outside linebacker LaMarr Woodley on Monday night and Roland gave up a sack on the one play he came into the game before Smith checked back into the game.
If Smith can't go Sunday in Indianapolis, who gets the nod against another elite rusher, left end Robert Mathis? The options are Roland and Anthony Collins, inactive for the last five games. Mathis is a bear on his home field and has racked up three double-digit sack seasons since 2004 and had 2.5 sacks and a forced fumble when the Bengals last played the Colts in 2008. He's got 6.5 sacks already at the halfway mark.
If Smith can play, he'll have to protect a banged-up passer.
"He's got a sore shouler," Lewis said of Palmer. "Giving it a rest."
Smith was listed as limited. Also limited was SAM linebacker Rey Maualuga (knee) and WILL back Keith Rivers (foot).
Lewis smiled when asked about Ochocinco's ankle that got rolled up Monday night while he blocked on one of running back Cedric Benson's runs. Lewis has always rolled his eyes when it comes to The Ocho's blocking.
"Make sure you put that; when he was blocking," Lewis said after practice. "It's the first time he's ever blocked and not looking behind. As he said, 'I told you.' ''
There doesn't seem to be a lot of angst about Palmer. He did his usual Wednesday news conference and he has already played once this year when he missed a Thursday practice because of a back issue.
Palmer had plenty of body parts to choose from since the Steelers didn't exactly handle him with care Monday night. He got sacked a season-high four times and got hit several other times, including on his 27-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Terrell Owens.
The Bengals are in a short practice week and went back to the field for a scheduled normal two-hour Wednesday workout with all their starters but Palmer, The Ocho, defensive tackle Tank Johnson (knee) and safety Chris Crocker (calf). Johnson also didn't work last week. They are often in helmets and shoulder pads for Wednesday, but during this one they wore shells on their shoulders in prepping for Sunday's 1 p.m. game in Indianapolis. Also out were defensive linemen Jon Fanene (hamstring), linebacker Roddrick Muckelroy (ankle) and defensive end Carlos Dunlap and runnning back Cedric Peerman (both out with illness).
SLANTS AND SCREENS
» Since Monday night's frustrating one-night catch against the Steelers, Chad Ochocinco has received advice from some heavy hitters. Rev. Jesse Jackson, the civil rights activist whose career stretches back to the circle of Dr. Martin Luther King, and Denzel Washington, the Oscar-winning actor.
The Ocho met Jackson for the first time Tuesday when head coach Marvin Lewis called Ochocinco back to Paul Brown Stadium after he had just left to go back to his home a stone's throw away down Mehring Way. Jackson, in town for a speech, waxed eloquent with Ochocinco when he told him a story about Muhammad Ali.
"Ali had got knocked down by somebody and Jesse asked him, 'What made you get up?' '' The Ocho recounted before Wednesday's practice. "And Jesse said Ali told him, 'I was on the floor and I was dazed and I opened my eyes and thought, 'The ground is no place for a champion.' Whoa. That sent chills through my body. That was awesome. He didn't just say it. He said it with that passion. He reminds me of Denzel and Ray Lewis. They've got a way of saying things."
The Ocho knows Washington and has talked to him on several occasions. He said he heard from him after Washington watched Monday night's game, the 27-21 loss to the Steelers in which Lewis benched The Ocho briefly to stem his animated frustration.
"Denzel got on me big time about losing my cool," The Ocho said. "Focus. Focus. Keep focusing. I've got to understand (double coverage) is a compliment and my job is isn't just about catching the ball."
» If you thought the Bengals defense played the run as well as theydid last season Monday night against the Steelers, defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer agrees with you.
"That's what Coach Zimmer said, that we looked like the team we had last year," said defensive tackle Domata Peko before Wednesday's practice. "We were running around, guys were being gap sound, not making as many mistakes as we did in prior games. Losing all those games in a row, we had a lot of mistakes. But on Monday night we showed up as a defense and we were really gap sound and everyone doing their job."
Until the Steelers' last drive of the game, the Bengals gave up just 78 yards on 25 runs to a team that came into the game averaging four yards per carry. How much do the Steelers believe in the run? Knowing they had to salt the game away on their last drive, Pittsburgh never passed it and pounded it seven times for 43 yards on Rashard Mendenhall bursts of eight, nine and 18 yards.
But with the Steelers about to get the clinching points, middle linebacker Dhani Jones and safety Reggie Nelson came up to stop Mendenhall for gains of none and one, respectively. And in his first start of the season in place of the injured Tank Johnson, tackle Pat Sims made his sixth and final tackle of the night in a series the Bengals held to force Jeff Reed's missed 46-yard field goal that gave them a shot to win it in the final 3:59.
"Being ready mentally, everybody doing their job," Peko said when asked why now. "Not trying to do too much, not doing too little. If everyone does their job, we'll be fine on defense."
Peko is also seeking the same kind of pass rush, which got revived a bit Monday night against quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. Left end Robert Geathers got his first sack of the season, the first by a defensive lineman since the third game, and the first by any Bengal in 10 quarters.
"We were all over Ben," Peko said, but no one is expecting a bunch Sunday.
The Colts don't run it well (25th in the league) or often (25 times per game), largely because the Colts offensive line is built to protect quarterback Peyton Manning. But even though everyone knows Manning is throwing, the Colts usually lead the NFL in allowing the fewest sacks per pass, and they are again. And the Bengals are next-to-last in the NFL generating sacks per pass.
» Peko got the rare call on offense Monday night when he was the fullback and lead blocker for running back Cedric Benson's one-yard touchdown run. He didn't know until after the play that the guy he sent butt over tea kettle was Pro Bowl safety Troy Polamalu, a fellow Samoan with one of the fiercest reps in the NFL.
"I've got nothing but respect for Polamalu and I'm pretty sure if the tables were turned he would do it to me," Peko said Wednesday. "I was just looking for the first black helmet to show up in the hole whoever it was. I was going to go all out. It just happened to be him. We're from the same country, American Samoa, and I looked up and said, 'Oooh, one of my fellow usos.' "
Uso means brother in Samoan and Polamalu must have been thinking the same thing.
"He just turned to me and said, 'Why did you get me, Usy?' " Peko said. "It's all business out there. After the game we shook hands. A lot of people know if you play the game long enough, everybody is going to get hit like that."
» A pure fullback showed up Wednesday in the person of Chris Pressley, the most talked about active player not on the roster until he signed to the practice squad Wednesday. Pressley, who broke into the league as a rookie free agent last year, became a fan favorite via Hard Knocks, but Tampa Bay plucked him off the Bengals practice squad early last season.
When the Bengals lost their only fullback in this past training camp after Fui Vakapuna injured his shoulder, the Bucs tried to trade him back to the Bengals. But the Bengals figured they'd have a free shot at him because Tampa Bay would eventually cut him and they did last month. Still, the Bengals didn't sign him when he worked out because they're more comfortable blocking in that spot with their tight ends instead of a young fullback.
Pressley turned down an offer for the practice squad after that workout in an effort to see if he could hook on to someone's active roster. When he couldn't, he opted for the Bengals because he and fellow practice-squadder Joe Tronzo are the only fullbacks. He says the coaches want him to work on the offset stuff that the tight ends do so the opposition knows that when he's in the game it's not just a running play.
Now all he has to do is convince the Bengals they can use a fullbck
"That's my mindset," Pressley said. "I want to get into practice and show them I'm capable if they're willing to add me to the offense. I know the system and it's wide open. There's no (active) fullback here. I figure it's the best place for me."