Carson Palmer has experienced no pain in his early stages of throwing a football, Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis revealed after Friday's practice.
Lewis said Palmer has been throwing a football all week, his first passes since Oct. 5, but wouldn't say how far or hard. But he did continue to say no surgery has been planned and there won't be if things progress.
"Everything is going well," Lewis said.
It's believed Palmer is tossing lightly and not throwing long or hard.
Lewis also said while he expects left tackle Levi Jones (back) to miss Sunday's game, he hopes he's back to practice next week. Also doubtful Sunday are safety Chinedum Ndukwe (foot) and running back Kenny Watson (hamstring). Watson hasn't practiced since injuring his hamstring this week. (Friday Injury Report)
The hope is that Jones, Ndukwe and right end Antwan Odom (shoulder) will be at least practicing next week and listed as questionable or probable.
For a game against the NFL's 25th best run defense, the Bengals are dinged at running back. Chris Perry (hamstring) is questionable, but he did practice in full Friday.
It looks like cornerback David Jones (knee) had a setback. He didn't practice Friday after going limited Thursday and is questionable.
Lewis said tackle Kirk Barton is going on injured reserve—its believed to be a high ankle sprain—after he just arrived here a week ago from the Miami practice squad.
With the dings to Perry and Watson, his spot was filled by rookie running back James Johnson. Johnson a free agent out of Kansas, survived training camp and has been on the practice squad since. He was the club's second-leading rusher in the four preseason games with 94 yards on 21 carries. His 42-yarder is the longest run the Bengals have had all year.
"It's either him or me because I don't think they keep both of us," said Houshmandzadeh, in the last year of his contract. "I don't think they'll get rid of both of us because how can you have no one that has started an NFL game? The only time Chris Henry has started is when we've gone three wides."
Bengals president Mike Brown said last week that the club will take the offseason to decide if it can pay Houshmandzadeh and he left open the option of franchising him. At about an estimated $9 million next year, Houshmandzadeh doubts they'll do it.
What he doesn't doubt is that he and Colts cornerback Keiwan Ratliff are going to be talking when they line up against each other in the slot Sunday in Indy. They will be refueling a rivalry that began in practice while Ratliff was a Bengal from 2004-2006 and has a lot of mutual respect.
"He can play," Houshmandzadeh said. "He's smart."
"It has been football," he said. "It hasn't been much else."
The latest injury seems to be a prime example, a high ankle sprain suffered by tackle Kirk Barton in practice this week after arriving only last Friday from the Dolphins practice squad. He had another offensive lineman fall on his leg.
Of the 17, three are hamstring problems and one of those (right end Frostee Rucker) stretched his when he hyperextended his knee joint slipping on a wet, soft field in Pittsburgh. Left end Robert Geathers did the same thing to his knee on the same field, and cornerback David Jones' knee ended up on the inactive list since that same game.
Ranging from rookie WILL linebacker Keith Rivers' broken jaw to cornerback Johnathan Joseph's re-broken foot to safety Marvin White's torn anterior cruciate ligament in his knee to left guard Andrew Whitworth's high ankle sprain, the bulk of the injuries look to be the result of contact. Lewis said the club may have had to move players to IR quicker because it needed bodies to respond to multiple injuries at certain positions, such as the secondary, defensive line and offensive line.
"You may have to move a little quicker on a guy to get to the 45 (gameday active list) on Sunday and needing to practice," Lewis said, explaining why some players were quickly shelved. "If you cut way back in practice, now you hurt the rest of the team (because) you go into games a bit underprepared."
Lewis has heard heat from his own players (Houshmandzadeh has been the public voice) that he grinds his players with long practices. NFL Network analyst Deion Sanders questioned why Lewis had them on the field for two hours the day before the Pittsburgh game on a Thursday night.
"Our practices are far less than most teams," Lewis said. "Those were pluses in '03, '04, '05, '06, '07. The way we practiced. All of a sudden it's a bone of contention."
Lewis says what he likes about this year is that fewer players have missed practice at the rate they did in other years. Usually he has 55-57 players available, he says, from the pool of 62 and that's been important because "it enables you to get the repetition for the quarterback you need. It's hard for us to cut back when you've got a new quarterback, you're dealing with a new running back. We've had new safeties. We've got a young secondary. It's difficult to cut back in these areas when you have new people that are playing. You have a whole new defensive line other than two players. At least we've been able to practice and have a fair opportunity to prepare for the game."
What piques Lewis' interest are the hamstring or groin pulls in practice. That's what put veteran safety Dexter Jackson on IR as well as fullback Reagan Maui'a, since released. In both cases the players were returning after stretches they didn't practice, Jackson because he broke his thumb and Maui'a because he got released.
"Some guys that are nicked up in practice," Lewis said. "When they've been nicked in the scope of practice with a groin or hamstring or something like that, making sure that person is staying flexible and staying moving and warm and not standing and then being asked to exert.
"We've had a few. We don't want to have any. (But Ben) Utecht comes out of his stance and tears his plantar fasciitis. Same with Chinedum (Ndukwe). Things you can't avoid. (Antwan) Odom (shoulder) is reaching to make a tackle in practice and gets his arm run through."
And Lewis is going to practice.
"There is no other way," he said. "You have to practice. I don't care where you play, you have to practice. If you intend to be a good football team you need to practice. There's not many teams that can get by with at least that."
WEATHER UPDATE: The Colts make the call on the retractable roof of their new stadium 90 minutes before the kick. With the National Weather Service in Wilmington, Ohio calling for 24 degrees under mostly sunny skies in Indianapolis Sunday with winds of about nine miles per hour out of the northwest, it's probably going to be closed.
It was closed in the Colts' last home game, a 1 p.m. kick on Nov. 16. According to Colts public relations icon Craig Kelley (in his 24th season anchoring the horse shoe in the press box), if there is any chance of moisture the roof is closed because there is no crown on the field. There is zero percent chance for precipitation Sunday in Indy.
Kelley, Maestro of The Minute for grateful scribes everywhere, reports that on Nov. 16 the temperature was a balmy 37 degrees.