Pre-game hits: Dennard OK to go; Ross inactive; Jackson greets McCarron

Cornerback Darqueze Dennard passed muster before Sunday’s game against the Browns but rookie wide receiver John Ross didn’t as Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis made out his inactive sheet.

Dennard, who tweaked his knee early in last week’s win in Denver, missed practice Wednesday and Thursday and was limited Friday but apparently made enough progress in the last 48 hours to get the call. That put cornerback KeiVarae Russell on the bench despite last week’s blocked field goal at the end of the half.

Middle linebacker Kevin Minter (elbow) was back in the lineup for the first since Oct. 22 and that frees up Vontaze Burfict to work at his preferred spot on the outside at WILL after his best game of the season.
Ross, the club’s first-round pick, was a healthy scratch for the second straight week and has played in just three games. Also down for the offense was rookie running back Brian Hill and guards Alex Redmond and Christian Westerman.

Two defensive regulars were ruled out Friday with hamstring injuries in starting safety Shawn Williams and back-up linebackers and special teams captain Vincent Rey.
It breaks Rey’s string of 108 straight games, dating back to when he was inactive for the 14th game of the season in his rookie year of 2010.

The Bengals had a late addition to the roster when Adam Bernard Jones Jr., was born at 11:55 Saturday night. But his dad showed no worse for wear when he showed up on the Paul Brown Stadium turf at his regular time for his pre-game workout. He did break off a sprint down the sideline to embrace Browns head coach Hue Jackson when he heard Jackson shout to him, “That man had a baby. That man had a baby.” They had a long embrace as Jones whispered “Thank you.” Jones has often praised Jackson for helping his game in 2012, when Jackson was a defensive assistant with defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer.

Jackson, the Bengals offensive coordinator in 2014 and 2015, also made sure he hugged Bengals backup quarterback Andy Dalton. How close was McCarron to starting this game for Jackson? A couple of minutes. That’s how late the Browns were in signing off on a trade for McCarron at last month’s traded deadline.  When Jackson saw McCarron tossing balls, he broke into a jog from across the field and surprised him in mid-toss with an embrace that almost lasted those few minutes.

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