Updated: 6:10 p.m.
Now that left tackle Andrew Whitworth (knee) appeared at Thursday's practice in the uniform of the day—shoulder pads and helmets—it is left to Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis to report after the workout just how much he did. Whitworth's classification for Monday's game at Paul Brown Stadium against the Steelers (8:40 p.m.-ESPN, Cincinnati's Channel 5) won't be revealed until Saturday afternoon.
Lewis put down Whitworth as "limited," which means he looks to have a decent shot at playing after missing most of the last month. Before practice Lewis compared Whitworth's status to that day's weather, which appeared to be cloudy but with the sun trying to break through.
Also back working was cornerback Brandon Ghee (concussion), also listed as limited, and out were backup guard-center Mike Pollak (knee) and backup safety and core special-teamer Jeromy Miles (hamstring). WILL backer Vontaze Burfict (thigh) was also limited.
HALL CALL: Willie Anderson, regarded as the best right tackle in Bengals history, becomes the franchise's first legitimate Hall of Fame candidate since quarterback Boomer Esiason became eligible more than 10 years ago.
The Pro Football Hall of Fame released its list of 2014 candidates Wednesday night and Anderson has a formidable road with a ballot of other first-time eligibles that include Super Bowl winning-coach Tony Dungy, record-breaking receiver Marvin Harrison, and 11-time Pro Bowl linebacker Derrick Brooks.
Also on the list is 2013 finalists Tim Brown and Andre Reed, a pair of wide receivers, as well as guard Will Shields.
On Thursday, there was no doubt where Bengaldom stood on the matter. Particularly Bengals offensive line coach Paul Alexander, the coach that was here when the Bengals made Anderson the 10th pick of the 1996 NFL Draft.
"He was the best right tackle in our generation of football; I think it's obvious," Alexander said. "l would think it's obvious. I would think anyone who is the best in their position over time is certainly worthy."
The hope is that Anderson, 38, won't suffer from the same reasons he was hurt in Pro Bowl voting and didn't get to Hawaii until his eighth year. He wasn't on a winning team until his 10th season and didn't play in a winning postseason game until he finished his career with Baltimore for one season in 2008.
Two left tackles from Anderson's era (Willie Roaf from the draft of 1993 and Jonathan Ogden from 1996) are already in the Hall and another left tackle, Walter Jones from the 1997 draft, is also eligible. Anderson has felt he was a trail blazer of sorts in the sense that defenses started putting their best rushers on the left side to avoid the more athletic tackles and that right tackles suddenly had to be as athletic as they were powerful.
"He went to Hawaii with those guys," Alexander said of Roaf and Ogden.
Alexander also recalled a conversation he had with the Tennessee coaches after the final game of the 2001 season.
"They told me their team voted (Anderson) league MVP. That's how good he was," Alexander said. "He had some years he gave up zero sacks, which is ridiculous."
Alexander has long thought it was a shame Anderson was voted to "only" four Pro Bowls, from '03-06 because the Bengals won 34 games from 1996-2002.
"When we did start winning," he said, "he got the recognition he deserved."
STEELERS MOVES: Word out of Pittsburgh on Thursday afternoon is that first-round pick Jarvis Jones is going to get the start at James Harrison's old spot at right outside linebacker. The Steelers are also going to go with the center they just picked up as they try to rebound from the season-ending knee injury to center Maurkice Pouncey, former Titan Fernando Velasco. Velasco started 16 games last year, 13 at center, and he'll be reunited with his old Georgia teammate, Bengals defensive tackle Geno Atkins.
Bengals defensive coordinator Mke Zimmer went through some second-guessing after Thursday's practice as he reviewed some of the key plays in the opener. He blamed himself for Chicago's first major third-down conversion—third-and-17—on its first touchdown drive where he blitzed safety Reggie Nelson off the edge.
"They were on the 32 and I said I was trying to get them out of field-goal range instead of trying to get them out," Zimmer said.
Plus, "I didn't adjust well enough in the maximum protection. They maxed up all day. They really didn't give us chances to blitz much."
The Bengals figure to see a bunch of max protection (keeping in in extra blockers on passes) and after their vaunted front had no sacks Zimmer says the best way to counter max protect might not be necessarily blitzing more, but also getting better play in the back end.
"It's a combination of a lot of things," Zimmer said.
But he had no second-guessing on the work of new SAM backer James Harrison. Zimmer figures he blitzed Harrison about 10 of his 39 snaps, but he won't say if that's the ratio of pressure he seeks for him.
"It depends on the game and the team," Zimmer said. "I never go into a game saying something like, 'I'll blitz him 23 times.' "
Zimmer said Harrison set the edge against the run well and noted how he disrupted two plays with crackback blocks. He also saw the havoc Harrison wreaked on the first third down of the year (third-and-two) when Zimmer blitzed him and the Bears left end Carlos Dunlap unblocked.
"They let the end loose because they went to Harrison," Zimmer said. "There are things unique about him."
JONES CATCHES HIMSELF: Adam Jones prides himself on turning down fair catches when a punt is in the air. But he admitted Thursday that he blundered not catching Sunday's punt at the end of the half that rolled to the Bengals 12. In hindsight he wouldn't have fair caught it, of course, but he would have caught it.
"I had plenty of room. Just when I looked down I misjudged the ball and it tailed in on me. I should have caught the ball," he said. "I didn't catch it because I didn't think I could get a clear catch on it. That's why I let it go. We go into the half winning the game, why be a hero? Come back after the half and make a big play. That was the decision I made on that one, but I've got to catch that ball, period, point blank."