Updated: 12/3/10 6:25 a.m.
Bengals offensive coordinator Bob Bratkowski loves the work of his two rookie weapons, tight end Jermaine Gresham and wide receiver Jordan Shipley. But quarterback Michael Johnson's end-zone interception to wide receiver Terrell Owens against the Jets last Thursday night showed how excruciating the learning process can be.
Gresham got tangled up with the linebacker while running his route.
"Jermaine was part of the read; his read should have developed faster," Bratkowski said after Thursday's practice. "Instead of being able to avoid the linebacker, he ran right into the middle of him. He didn't do a good job of avoiding him and getting to the spot. It slowed the process down for the quarterback and it ended up coming out late getting too far back across the middle."
Bratkowski said Palmer still probably shouldn't have thrown it so late, but there were other factors.
"When you talk about young guys playing in the NFL, rookies at receiver and tight end, that generally is one of the things they have to learn," Bratkowski said. "Avoid traffic to get to their spots. Generally, a younger receiver, those are the things that get him. They don't anticipate. All of a sudden a linebacker shows up, drops in front of you. Guys with experience, they can anticipate the guy moving and then avoiding him and getting to the spot. That's part of the learning process.
"It gets better, but they keep coming up. He may be able to anticipate where a guy is going to drop on this route, but here's this other route the guy dropped right in front of him and he had to make a decision to go inside or outside and he went right through the middle of him."
Bratkowski can sense even his veterans are pressing at times. Palmer has been picked off in the end zone in each of the last two games, and while he wishes he would have pulled the ball down against the Jets, Bratkowski is hesitant to blame Palmer's decision-making against Buffalo when safety George Wilson came up with the Bills' first pick of the year by a DB in front of wide receiver Terrell Owens.
"To a degree on offense, I think everybody is pressing too much. I think that goes for everyone and think that probably includes Carson at times," Bratkowski said. (The Wilson play) was a touch different. The safety ended up being hidden behind another route and the safety just kind of popped out. That one was not as much of a decision as it looked. You couldn't see the safety. He was hidden behind the other route, and he popped out. If anything, maybe we have the ball up a touch higher and the guy can't get to it."
Thursday was Bratkowski's 55th birthday. He has lived and breathed all of them in the NFL because his father, Zeke Bratkowski, quarterbacked and coached in the league in five decades. So he wasn't all that surprised when a "Fire Bratkowski" T-shirt was at the center of a Paul Brown Stadium disagreement. A fan is claiming he got booted out of a game because he was wearing it and the Bengals say he didn't get booted.
But Bratkowski isn't confused.
"I was raised around the profession, I know that goes with the territory when you're not having the success you expect," he said. "I would sit in the stands and listen and hear the fans. You learn to deal with that. It goes with choosing this profession. You have to be (thick skinned). You just have to go do your job, come to work every day and do it the best that you can."
» Before Thursday's practice, cornerback Johnathan Joseph (ankle) said he's encouraged by his limted work on Wednesday and that he's headed in the right direction. He and cornerback Rico Murray (ankle) went full Thursday for the first time since they got hurt Nov. 21 against Buffalo.
» Tight end Jermaine Gresham didn't practice with a non-injury issue but isn't expected to miss Sunday's game. Cornerback Brandon Ghee (hamstring) missed another practice and it doesn't look like he's playing. Left tackle Andrew Whitworth (knee) and defensive tackle Pat Sims (knee) were limited for the second straight day.
For the Saints, running back Pierre Thomas (ankle) was limited Thursday for the second straight day.
» For the second straight game the Bengals are blacked out with no local television after Paul Brown Stadium didn't sell out Sunday's 1 p.m. game against the Saints. According to Twitter, The Ocho wasn't pleased and fired out a "Who is responsible for these mishaps when the games don't sell out, when soccer clubs aren't doing well their games still sell out."
The Ocho vowed he would buy the remaining tickets late Thursday afternoon, but it looked like it would be too late to avoid the blackout because it is past Thursday's 1 p.m. deadline.
"fingers crossed, we might be 2-9, but if gotta play, u gotta watch," he tweeted.
The Ocho was feeling his oats all day. In practice he was running around the 30-degree weather in shirt sleeves yelling at The Cincinnati Enquirer's Joe Reedy to take off his coat...
» Right end Antwan Odom (wrist) became the fourth Bengals defensive lineman to go on injured reserve Thursday and his place was taken by end Victor Adeyanju. Adeyanju, a four-year veteran with the Rams when they released him after this preseason, had been with the Bengals for less than a week last month when injuries in the secondary forced them to cut him.
The 6-4, 284-pound Adeyanju* *has 26 starts in 53 games with three sacks, four fumble recoveries (one for an 89-yard touchdown), and 178 tackles.
The move ends a miserable season for Odom, the team leader with eight sacks in the first six games last year before he ripped his Achilles tendon. Since then he endured a virus and hurt his knee in training camp before being suspended for four games after testing positive for a banned substance. In his last game before the suspension, Oct. 10, he didn't start and broke his wrist. He ended up playing in just four games with eight tackles and a pass defensed.