Palmer splits throws, called probable; Smith mulls next move

Updated: 3:30 p.m.

Bengals quarterback Carson Palmer, out the past two days with a sore throwing shoulder, ran the club early in Friday's practice and made all the throws he usually makes in those drills.

After a practice Palmer split the throws with backup Jordan Palmer and No. 3 Dan LeFevour, head coach Marvin Lewis was cautious but said Palmer could play Sunday in the 1 p.m. game (Cincinnati's Channel 12) in Indianapolis, and he has been categorized as probable on the injury report after being limited.

"He missed practice on Thursday with soreness, he's not going to be 100 percent come Friday," Lewis said. "But we still have a lot of time, 48 hours."

But after watching him, Lewis thinks Palmer willl play.

He's not so sure about safety Chris Crocker (thigh), who has now missed all three days of work since getting hurt Monday and is doubtful. So is defensive tackle Tank Johnson (knee) after he missed his sixth straight practice. Defensive end Carlos Dunlap missed all three practices this week with an illness and is questionable. Cornerback Morgan Trent (knee) surfaced on the injury report Friday after practicing all week and is questionable.

The guys who were limited on Thursday, linebackers Rey Maualugua (knee), Keith Rivers (foot) and Roddrick Muckelroy (ankle) went full Friday and are probable.

SLANTS AND SCREENS

» Right tackle Andre Smith surfaced in the locker room Friday for the first time since he broke a bone in his foot. It looks like he's out for the year, but he says his situation is still being evaluated and surgery remains an option.

Smith looked down after another devastating moment in his brief career. He was hoping it was his shoelace that popped when his left foot got stepped on during the pass-protection drill. But after he took his cleat off it was obvious to him he had the same type of injury he suffered 14 months ago in his third NFL practice when he broke his fourth metatarsal. This time it was the fifth, the bone next to the fourth on the outside of the foot.

"It was a blow, but it will be a bump in the road, not a block," Smith said. "I'm still trying to let it all soak in that I broke my foot."

Smith could have surgery as early as next week, but he said he's gathering opinions from different doctors before he makes a decision. Whatever the call, he says the rehab is going to be smoother than the one he encountered when he had surgery back in January and he expects to be ready before the May camps.

He put himself even more behind when he put on a lot of weight in the weeks after the procedure with reports putting it as high as 375 pounds. A crash-course at training camp in which Smith endured three workouts a day and a demanding cardio program he has been following even during the season has him down to what is believed to be about 345 pounds.

"It's not going to be that much of an issue," Smith said. "I'm going to be here and not traveling back and forth (to Alabama). I learned that my rookie year. It was a life lesson I learned last year."

But he knows he's losing a big chunk of experience that he needs. He has now missed both training camps and what looks to be 18 of his first 32 games.

"I was doing real well; working on my technique every day in practice," Smith said. "I was starting to have fun out there with my guys. Competing against the defense. Competing against friends. I can't wait to get back."

»The *Pittsburgh Post-Gazette *is reporting via ProFootballTalk.com that the NFL has told the Steelers that two key penalties in the drive the Bengals scored their final touchdown to cut the lead to 27-21 Monday were incorrectly called.

That comes a day after a source said the NFL told the Bengals a holding call on left tackle Andrew Whitworth was incorrect.

The newspaper reported the league told the Steelers that Casey Hampton's roughing-the-passer call on Palmer was wrong because Hampton hit him in the thigh and not the knee. On the next snap, the report said, the officials shouldn't have called a pass interference penalty on Ike Taylor covering Terrell Owens in the end zone that put the ball on the Steelers 1 and set up the touchdown.

The Bengals also got a wrong call at a bad time. The league told the club Whitworth was incorrectly called for holding James Harrison in the first half. It wiped out Owens' first down with the Bengals driving to take a 14-10 lead. But the flag created a third-and-13 and two snaps later Palmer's interception translated into a 17-7 Steelers lead.   

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