Notes: The play's the thing (but how many?)

Posted: 4:20 a.m.

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Adams

While Sam Adams gives Peyton Manning a morsel to chew on for Friday's preseason finale, Willie Anderson offers a reminder that the Bengals No. 1 offense didn't exactly feast on reps last preseason before becoming the NFL's No. 6 offense.

"He's playing; that's Peyton Manning. He's playing and he's going to try and score on us," said Adams, the new Bengals defensive tackle, of the perpetual mystery surrounding preseason finales.

"But he better get a good breakfast, lunch and dinner and maybe a midnight snack because we're not in the mood to give up any points this week if we can."

The game in Indianapolis will at least start out as a matchup between Manning and the Bengals' Carson Palmer, the quarterbacks who share the NFL record of nine straight games with at least a 100 passer rating.

But don't look for either of them beyond the second series. Manning didn't even play in last year's preseason finale at Paul Brown Stadium and while Palmer said he would play "a couple" of series, head coach Marvin Lewis is also talking about finding rest for his "sore" players who have just four days between this one and the 48-17 win over Green Bay on Monday night.

So the question before the floor is if the Bengals offense can afford to take most of the night off even though their quarterback has only played one game and the regular-season opener is 10 days away in Kansas City.

The calendar is looking to have the final say.

"You have to understand that (training) camp is just winding down," said center Rich Braham. "It ended only about two days before the last game, so we're still trying to get our legs back. You try to rest as much as we can, but you've got to understand that we've been in a tough grind. Camp with the Bengals is definitely not easy."

At the age of 35, Braham is looking at playing two games in four days for the first time in nine years and he admits, "yeah, that was a few surgeries ago." Which is another reason why Palmer probably goes just two series at best. The only two Bengals left from that four-day stretch in 1997 are on Palmer's offensive line in Braham and Anderson, the Pro Bowl right tackle. All three guys have had some kind of knee surgery in the past year and a half.

In fact, the only action Anderson says he saw last preseason after his microfracture surgery was in that finale won by Cincinnati, 38-0.

Which means the first offense has had more snaps together this summer than last summer because Palmer got in 34 snaps Monday night in four series that produced three touchdown passes and a field goal.

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Anderson

"I played 13 snaps last year in the last game and was ready to go," said Anderson, who made it to his third straight Pro Bowl while extending his starting streak to 96 games. "(Palmer) basically did the same thing.

"It's football. The offense is a machine and he's a big part of our machine, but as long as the other parts are working ... you put one piece back in and he's ready to steer it. He's the driver."

Palmer admitted Wednesday that he's rustier than when he went into last season and he feels like he needs the work. He wasn't altogether pleased with his reads and checks against the Packers and, besides, "I just love playing," he said. All of which doesn't surprise Braham.

"That's why he's Carson Palmer. He thinks he can get better no matter how he does," Braham said. "I think even if he didn't play Monday, we would have confidence in him out in Kansas City. If we do our job and protect him, that's all. We have total confidence in him. We try and give him as much time in the pocket and let him do his thing."

But, every Bengal saw what happened to Redskins running back Clinton Portis's shoulder at PBS two weeks ago in the opener, and it makes one think about the value of a preseason snap.

"I think it's a double-edged sword. Would you risk him? Preseason is funny," Braham said. "You look out there and the running back who's out from the Redskins is saying, 'What am I doing playing in preseason?' You can definitely benefit from playing in preseason, but you hurt yourself if you get him nicked up."

Anderson believes the heavy lifting has already been done long before so this offense is ready. Zero snaps. Four snaps. Eight snaps on Friday.

Doesn't matter.

"We're ready for our kind of physical football," Anderson said. "We've been in pads a lot and worked hard and we've got that mentality where we've worked too hard to go out and spin our wheels in the first game and look like we never put on a uniform. The thing we want to do (Friday) is look productive and not look silly and just keep the momentum going."

Running back Rudi Johnson pretty much summed up the mood by sitting in front of his locker after Wednesday's practice and flexing the muscles he developed in the offseason. He has carried just 18 times after carrying it 40 times last preseason and 37 times the summer before that.

"I'm ready," Johnson said. "How do I look? I feel ready."

Anderson smiled at the 18 carries.

"That just means," Anderson said, "now he's in the elite."

SLANTS AND SCREENS

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It seems the Packers' young offensive line took some liberty with cut blocks early in Monday's game. In true three-time Pro Bowl fashion, Bengals defensive tackle Sam Adams didn't get mad, he got even and then didn't talk about it.

"It's OK as long as you reach an understanding," Adams reflected Wednesday. "As long as you reach the understanding, OK."

Translation: As one Bengals coach said, "It's like having the sheriff in town."

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Adams, by the way, insisted he came to training camp in shape back on July 29 and was healthy enough and in condition enough to practice. But he didn't get the call until 27 days into camp last Friday and was pleased.

"I was just glad I had the opportunity to come to work and ... not get beat up in Kentucky," Adams said of his work on the side with strength coaches Chip Morton and Ray Oliver. "Hopefully I can do the same thing next year."

Adams said he had no problem playing 17 snaps Monday.

"We were rotating and they weren't going to kill me in my first game," he said.

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If you don't think Palmer's new knee brace is very big or special, you're right.

"If you ask me, I really don't know what the difference is," Palmer said. "It feels and looks just about the same."

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