Updated: 5:25 p.m.
Left guard Andrew Whitworth is more than a bit annoyed that the narrative emerging from the Lost Weekend in Pittsburgh is that the Ravens control the destiny of the AFC North and that it is almost like the Bengals are 5-9 instead of 9-5.
"We control our own destiny," Whitworth said before Wednesday's practice. "If we win our last two, we go to the playoffs."
Looking at his phone, Whitworth quizzed the media about the Week 15 records of the past three Super Bowl champs: 7-7, 8-6, 9-5 …
Actually, if the Bengals only beat the Ravens a week from Sunday in the 1 p.m. season finale at Paul Brown Stadium, they'll go to the playoffs. But nickel cornerback Chris Crocker said a loss this Sunday at PBS against the Vikings at 1 p.m. "won't be pretty."
"Honestly, I think we're going to win and I think Baltimore has momentum and I think they're going to win, too. I think that last game is going to mean a lot," Crocker said. "We just need to take care of business."
» Vikings head coach Leslie Frazier said his club is hoping The Man plays Sunday as running back Adrian Peterson (foot, groin) tries to get back in the lineup after missing last week's game. He went limited Wednesday, but it could be a game-time or Friday decision. Frazier played with Walter Payton in Chicago and after coaching Peterson he says the pair's ultra-competitive streaks are very similar.
» Tight end Jermaine Gresham (abdomen), who missed Sunday's fourth quarter, was on the field Wednesday and went full. SAM backer James Harrison (concussion), who left in the first quarter, was in sweats. So was Carlos Dunlap (concussion), who played nearly all the snaps but apparently the injury was late in Sunday's game. That's a concern. Dunlap is second on the club with seven sacks, missed much of the preseason with a concussion, so Thursday is a big day to see if he comes back. Cornerback Terence Newman (knee) didn't work and right guard Kevin Zeitler was limited after going full all last week and then not playing Sunday.
» Bengals defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer came off the practice field Wednesday after the Bengals worked on the PBS turf still quite not believing the Vikings are ranked only 13th in offense. He's impressed. And not just with Adrian Peterson, a running back he puts in the same "take your breath away" category as Barry Sanders.
"I was hoping not to see what I see on tape," Zimmer said of the wide receivers. "They've got some skill guys now, too. (Jerome) Simpson is playing well for them. (Cordarrelle) Patterson is a tremendously strong runner and receiver. And (Greg) Jennings. They're talented offensively."
» The Bengals de facto captains, Domata Peko on defense and Whitworth on offense, turned into Santa Claus on Wednesday and each had a helper.
When the players came back into the locker room after the morning walkthrough, the defense had a gift bag filled with the video game PS4, courtesy of Peko and fellow defensive tackle Geno Atkins. Whitworth and fellow lineman Andre Smith teamed up to give each offensive player gift certificates to Jeff Ruby's restaurant, a pair of UGG slippers, and a Bose sound machine.
And it looked like the offense took care of the three specialists because Whitworth fired out, referring to their new deals this past offseason, "They should give us something. They all got paid."
With the going rate for a PS4, it wasn't a nickel and dime job and, believe it, stuff like that matters in a locker room.
"It means a lot. It means that they care about their side of the ball," said linebacker Vontaze Burfict. "For them to spend this amount of money on PS4s—they're like $450 each—it's a big deal … Domata, he's the man. He's a great dude. Man, I can't even explain it. I like hanging out with him off of the field. He's a great dude. Makes you laugh. Has a great sense of humor and, you know, this is a great thing for him to buy PSs for the whole defense. It just shows how much he cares."
No, Whitworth and Smith didn't sit around Tuesday night working on the bag's presentation.
"My wife helped pack them up," Whitworth said. "I think it makes guys feel appreciated and feel like guys support them."
» Even though Burfict leads the NFL in tackles and is starting to pull away, according to NFL.com, and by most accounts is having a sterling enough sophomore season to rate going to the Pro Bowl, Burfict revealed Wednesday he doesn't believe in the all-star game.
"I don't think the Pro Bowl should be in the NFL. That's an individual thing and this is not an individual sport," Burfict said. "You've got 10 more guys that are out on the field with you. If they make it to the Pro Bowl then everybody else should make it to the Pro Bowl."
According to the league, Burfict has 151 tackles, a healthy 12 more than Jacksonville linebacker Paul Posluszny.
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