Chris Carter reflected on his London experience Wednesday.
Bengals linebacker Chris Carter played in London as a member of the Steelers back in 2013 and promises much enthusiasm to greet the Bengals at Wembley Stadium next season.
"The fans were very knowledgeable about it. Which surprised me. But the stadium was sold out. It was loud in there. They were all about it," Carter said before Wednesday's practice, "It's kind of funny. It was the first game I've ever been to and there were a lot of fans wearing every jersey from every team. Dolphins and Packers. I'm like, 'We're playing the Vikings.' It was cool . . . I thought it was a great experience."
A lot of Bengals were hesitant to talk about the game simply because they're trying to finish off this season in the Super Bowl, never mind a game a year away. Marvin Lewis took a head coach's pragmatic view.
Nobody is promised next year around here. That's the first part of it," said Lewis, who warmed up to the subject when he recalled his 1987 pre-season visit as a coaching intern on 49ers head coach Bill Walsh's staff.
"But it is a good opportunity for the fans and organization to take the show overseas on the road," Lewis said. "A lot of the teams, almost two thirds of the teams around the league have already done this. We are taking our turn and our hand in it with that. It will be an exciting time . . . I think it will be a good thing for fans to have an opportunity to go to London and watch us beat the Redskins over there."
Running back Giovani Bernard is thinking the same thing, but he's actually going to beat the team over to London in the offseason. He already made plans to go across the pond.
"My girl is a flight attendant. I'll take a free flight over there. I'll let you know about what's going on," said Bernard, who said he'll scout the trip, "After we win the Super Bowl.
"We have this season right now, so we're worried about the Rams. Hopefully we can get this win and get back on track. We'll figure it out next year."
The oldest Bengal, left tackle Andrew Whitworth, who turns 34 in two weeks, says he can't think that far ahead.
"Not at my age. The next year is never on my mind," Whitworth said. "It's just play that year and get through it. That will be a unique experience, a great experience for the team, and we'll worry about that when that year comes."
Carter, a fifth-year linebacker, can vouch for that.
"The pep rally was out of control. Fans were going crazy. They ended up shutting down the street because everyone was so excited," Carter said. "It was in a good fashion, no violence or anything like that. . . . It was fun."
The next big decision is when Lewis decides to leave for the UK. While some teams have left a week in advance of the game, he has been leaning to Thursday and that would closely mirror a Bengals West Coast road trip. But Carter wouldn't advise it after the Steelers left Thursday night for a 34-27 loss to the Vikings.
"We left after a full day of practice flew, and when we got there it was just in time to practice again," Carter said. "We got off the plane, went to practice, and started another day. The next thing you knew we were playing the game, the game was over, and we were right back on the plane. I just feel like if the (other) team is there a week ahead of time I think it would be OK to be there a week ahead, or at least four days."
But Carter says the trip "didn't do anything detrimental to us that we couldn't go out and accomplish." Indeed that loss dropped the Steelers to 0-4; they came home to the typical bye week, and finished 8-4. So we know the Bengals' bye next season is Nov. 6.
Carter looks at it from the shelf life of the average NFL player, roughly three or four years.
"I thought it was a great experience. To be able to go out of the country and experience a different country and a different environment, it's a great opportunity."
*INJURY UPDATE: *With cornerback Darqueze Dennard (shoulder) reportedly lost for the season, cornerbacks Adam Jones (foot) and Leon Hall (a veteran's day off) didn't work. But safety Shawn Williams (ankle), who missed the last part of Sunday night's game in Arizona, was suited up. Left tackle Andrew Whitworth also took a vet day.
The backup corners must have been busy because the starter opposite Adam Jones, Dre Kirkpatrick (knee) was limited.
He had plenty of company with Williams, quarterback Andy Dalton (groin), linebacker Vontaze Burfict (knee), wide receiver Marvin Jones (hamstring) and right tackle Andre Smith (thigh). Defensive tackle Pat Sims (knee) was limited after he missed all last week and the game.
It looks like Rams quarterback Case Keenum is going to get the start Sunday since he was on the practice field Wednesday after starting the week in concussion protocol. He'll still have to undergo tests later in the week, but he looks to be the guy.
It's going to be Keenum's second start with the Rams and 12th overall. The last time the Rams came into Paul Brown Stadium in 2007, the Bengals beat Brock Berlin in his only NFL start. The Rams haven't had a 200-yard passing day since the opener.
Keenum and Rams head coach Jeff Fisher are in the cross-hairs of a concussion firestorm. And it's mushroomed even more because Fisher is co-chairman of the NFL Competition Committee.
(This is a pretty highly official game. Backup Bengals tackle Eric Winston is president of the NFL Players Association that has concerns about the play.)
Even though a TV replay clearly showed Keenum's head bouncing off the turf late in Sunday's loss in Baltimore, he didn't leave the game to get checked for a concussion. And that spurred an NFL investigation on Monday and a conference call with all 32 trainers on Tuesday to get everybody on the same page. In a new rule implemented this year, each game has an ATC spotter able to stop the game if there is someone playing that should be checked for a concussion.
In Wednesday's conference call with the Cincinnati media, Fisher said the club is working with the league, union, and other committees to make sure it doesn't happen again. Fisher said he didn't see it and his trainer didn't see and said, "Anytime you have a new system there are going to be unintended consequences." Right now there seems to be a lot of gray area because Fisher concluded, "There's a lot more to it than what you see in slow motion on the network replay."
As it stands, Keenum went limited Wednesday while four other starters didn't go, including two from an offensive line that has already lost five players to injury. And on defense, sack ace Robert Quinn (hip/back), who has missed two of the last three games, sat out Wednesday. So did Trumaine Johnson, one of their very good starting corners, was out with a thigh issue. HAMMERING AARON:For the first time Sunday, the Rams' version of Bengals Pro Bowl tackle Geno Atkins steps on the field with him. The 6-1, 285-pound Aaron Donald, whose seven sacks are tied with Atkins for the NFL lead among interior players, says he's got the same build but not the same style as the 6-1, 300-pound Atkins.
"He's more of a power rusher,' said Donald on Wednesday's conference call with the Cincinnati media. "You want to learn from good players, not copy them."
Donald realizes that Atkins, a fourth-round pick named to two Pro Bowls before Donald was drafted in the first round in 2014, may have made that pick possible
"You could say that. What he did before I got in the league as an undersized guy, you could definitely say that," Donald said. JONES AND FISHER:Adam Jones didn't practice all last week. He didn't play Sunday. He didn't practice Wednesday. But Fisher has no doubt he'll play this Sunday.
"He's a competitor," Fisher said.
And if anyone knows how good Jones would be playing right now with all this experience and with his life in order, it is Fisher.
He was the head coach of the Titans when they drafted Jones with the sixth pick in the 2005 draft and he was the head coach the next season when the NFL suspended Jones for a year under a mountain of legal issues and ended his Tennessee career after just two seasons and 30 games.
The guy that Bengals fans see now, one of the top cornerbacks and returners in the game whose savvy is as brilliant as his athleticism, is the same guy Fisher coached a decade ago. Just as smart.
"There have been many players with his issues that couldn't figure it out. He figured it out," Fisher said. "I'm happy for him. I'm looking forward to seeing him . . . I guess I would compliment the Bengals organization and Marvin for giving him that opportunity. He had it in him. That's why we drafted him. He's a special football player. He's very instinctive. He's a smart football player. And he always has been."
Fisher knew what he had.
"I'm just guessing he's one of the most popular guys in the locker room because that's his personality,' Fisher said.