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Notes: Tez eases into captaincy; Andre probable; Dennard questionable


You have to get up pretty early to get the jump on new captain Vontaze Burfict.

Updated: 4:30 p.m.

Vontaze Burfict, thought to be the youngest captain Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis has ever had, is also one of the most ready even though he's three weeks shy of his 24th birthday.

In fact, you have to get up pretty early in the morning to get one up on Burfict since he usually shows up to work at Paul Brown Stadium by 6 a.m.

"I don't have to change the way I am, but I do want to make sure I'm crisp on what I do in practice," Burfict said. "There are guys who have been in the league nine, 10 years that are looking up to me. I have to be on my A game."

He certainly deserves the title of captain since his teammates voted on it earlier this week. Really, no surprises. De facto captains Andrew Whitworth on offense and Domata Peko on defense joined the four   quarterbacks, Burfict on defense, Andy Dalton on offense and Cedric Peerman and Vincent Rey on special teams.

"Hard work pays off. I lead by example. I just have to watch what I do because everyone's watching me," Burfict said. "It's not surprising because I felt like I am the captain of the defense. I feel like I've earned it and I feel like I've to be a role model for the young guys and lead by example."

Young guys?

Burfict may be just 23, but he's got enough skins on the wall to cover the study of an accomplished veteran at the top of his profession. He's already got 30 NFL starts, two more in the postseason, nearly 400 tackles, an NFL tackling title, a Pro Bowl berth and he calls the signals for the NFL's No. 3 defense that solved four Super Bowl championship quarterbacks last season.

Carson Palmer, another young captain, didn't make his first NFL start until he was 24.

"(Burfict has) played a lot of football since he's been here," Lewis said. "He's one of the guys that we have. They grow up very fast when they're young. I guess, as they say, as more is given, more is asked, or however that goes. He's been given the responsibility and we ask a lot of him."

 Burfict has a daily routine at the office that is certainly worthy of following if anyone can stand it. On the days the Bengals work, he's in his car by 5:45 a.m. and at PBS by 6 a.m. He works out, gets in the cold tub and basically gets his mind right by about 7:30, 7:45. Then he runs back home, gets a home-cooked breakfast, and is back for morning meetings.

Call it Tez Time.

As the only guy in the locker room at that ungodly hour of the morning, he's listening to gospel. While getting his ducks in a row, he's listening to his music and not everyone else's and he says whatever it is, it's slow. Much of the time its gospel and often Kirk Franklin.

"I get to think before everybody else thinks," Burfict said. "I wake up, pray, listen to my Bible verses, get in the cold tub, work out. I get my stuff done."

The kids are watching.

ANDRE PROBABLE: After Friday's practice, Lewis sounded like right tackle Andre Smith (concussion) is going to start Sunday's opener  (1 p.m.-Cincinnati's Local 12) in Baltimore even though he didn't play a preseason game. And he was officially listed as probable on the injury report.

Before the injury report came out, Lewis was asked about Smith's ability to hold up and he said he's worked every snap of practice the last two weeks but was ruled out of the last two preseason games. Without saying he's playing, Lewis said it won't be a game-time decision and the practice pace isn't much different than a game.

"It's a little bit different, but not much the way we practice," Lewis said. "He's going to be playing against good guys. He's played against good guys out here. He's played against Carlos (Dunlap), Margus (Hunt), and Robert (Geathers) and Wallace (Gilberry) out here the last two weeks. He's played football, but he hasn't had to finish football, but he's played football."

 The Bengals held their last full-scale workout before Sunday's game on the Paul Brown Stadium field Friday morning. The turf is similar to the M&T Bank Stadium surface in Baltimore, where the National Weather Service in Wilmington, Ohio is calling for temperatures in the lows 80s under partly cloudy skies with no chance of rain and light winds out of the northeast at six miles per hour.

All looked good up front, where the left side of the offensive line returned from Thursday's veteran rest day. With linebacker Sean Porter (hamstring) and wide receiver James Wright (concussion) still nursing injuries and listed as doubtful, here is a guess at Lewis' inactive sheet that must be produced 90 minutes before the game:

Wright, Porter, wide receiver Marvin Jones, running back Rex Burkhead,   defensive end Will Clarke, and offensive linemen Tanner Hawkinson and T.J. Johnson.

Dennard (hip) didn't practice for the first time this week Friday after being limited, but even though Dennard virtually hasn't played since the opener, Lewis said he wouldn't have a problem playing the first-round pick.

"Darqueze is a very good football player. I don't need to see him do anything else. He did it all this spring. I have no reservations about his ability whatsoever," Lewis said. "If we have Darqueze up and active, he'll be ready to go."

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