Updated: 8:05 p.m.
NEW ORLEANS - The Bengals head into Friday night's preseason opener here at the Superdome without their biggest rookie name, but SAM linebacker Rey Maualuga (hamstring/groin) figures to make his debut Thursday night in New England.
Also shelved for the Bengals is Matt Sherry, the new tight end. But Dan Coats (ankle) is expected to start, giving them a complement of three with rookies Chase Coffman and Darius Hill.
Except for unsigned first-rounder Andre Smith at right tackle, head coach Marvin Lewis' depth chart holds up heading into his seventh opener. The only starter sitting out for the Saints is cornerback Tracy Porter.
Also out for the Bengals are cornerback David Jones (foot), WILL linebacker Brandon Johnson (hamstring), guards Dan Santucci (foot) and Evan Mathis (muscles), defensive tackle Pernell Phillips (groin), tight end Ben Utecht (concussion), wide receiver Antonio Chatman (ankle), and defensive end Frostee Rucker (hip).
Off his 5,000-yard season, Saints quarterback Drew Brees won't have two receivers in Courtney Roby and Lance Moore, but they are the only offensive players missing. Cornerback Reggie Jones has been placed on injured reserve with safety Chip Vaughn and linebacker Mark Simoneau out.
The Bengals were dressed in their all black uniforms and Lewis sent out the offense as a unit for the introductions. His captains were quarterbacks Carson Palmer and J.T. O'Sullivan, safeties Chris Crocker and Kyries Hebert and middle linebacker Dhani Jones. The Bengals won the toss and elected to receive. Wide receiver Andre Caldwell took the kick to his 25.
COLLINS DEBUT: If the biggest question of the Bengals preseason is the offensive line, then one of the biggest subplots is Anthony Collins' first NFL start at right tackle Friday night in their 8 p.m. preseason opener here against the Saints (Channel 12 and 1530-AM in Cincinnati) at the Superdome.
He's there because Andre Smith isn't. Contract negotiations for the No. 1 pick appear to be at a standstill because of the Raiders deal for wide receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey at No. 7 right before Smith at No. 6. Smith is most likely looking for more than the five-year, $38.25 million deal that Bey got two weeks ago in a contract that has apparently snagged other top 10 negotiations because it is more than a 20-percent increase over last year at No. 7.
The numbers keep going up. According to ProFootballTalk.com, No. 9 pick B.J. Raji signed a five-year deal worth $28 million ($18 million guaranteed), representing a 40-percent increase in total value compared to what the Bengals gave No. 9 pick Keith Rivers last year.
According to the Florida Times-Union, the No. 8 pick. Jaguars tackle Eugene Monroe, has also agreed to a deal slightly bigger than Raji's. That leaves Smith, No. 10 Michael Crabtree, and No. 11 Aaron Maybin the only rookies unsigned.
Alvin Keels, Smith's agent, has not Twittered about the talks since two days ago when he said he sent the Bengals "a fair proposal," and that he hopes things don't go back to "square one."
While Smith is back home in Alabama (we got a snapshot of one of his workouts on Hard Knocks), Collins is making a return of sorts. Last month he came down to West Monroe, La., to take part in left tackle Andrew Whitworth's football camp along with Louisiana native Nate Livings, the left guard, and rookie tight end Chase Coffman.
Collins makes the move after his first six NFL starts came at left tackle as a rookie last year. Offensive line coach Paul Alexander said earlier this week that Collins has shown no problems making the switch in sides after doing it in college at Kansas. But beyond that, his teammates believe he's matured emotionally and physically.
Collins not only went to Whitworth's camp, but he has been texting Whitworth constantly about plays and technique. The man that plays next to him, right guard Bobbie Williams, has seen him literally grow.
"The good thing is he knows what he's doing," Williams said. "He asks questions. He'll ask Paul a ton of questions. He's surprised me because he's grown physically. From more finesse-type to a true NFL tackle. We need that."
REPORT OF VICK OFFER: Jay Glazer of FOX reported just before Michel Vick's press conference in Philadelphia that the Bengals had offered him a two-year deal worth $2.3 million before taking the Eagles contract for $1.6 million with a second-year option of $5.2 million. It marked a reversal of Bengals president Mike Brown's July 28 pronouncement that the club didn't have interest in him because it had an established quarterback in Carson Palmer.
Apparently that was one of Vick's parameters, according to ESPN.com. as well as going to a team with a "strong owner. A strong organization. A strong head coach. A passionate fan base."
Contacted about half an hour before Vick met the media, agent Joel Segal had no comment on the report. The Bengals don't comment on contract negotiations but indications are they made just one offer in the event that no one else signed him. On the 28th Brown also said he felt that Vick had paid his dues and deserved the right to be back in the league.
LINEUP LOOK: Not only will Smith not be out there, but the second-round pick, SAM linebacker Rey Maualuga, probably won't be either as he battles a hamstring problem. All the other draft picks should be available and third-rounder Chase Coffman is going to get plenty of snaps at tight end. Especially since the newly-signed Matt Sherry may not play with a muscle problem of his own. He was riding the bike at Wednesday's practice.
Veteran tight end Ben Utecht probably won't take a snap in the preseason, if he comes back at all as he undergoes a variety of neurological tests. The usual treatment for a concussion when someone loses consciousness is going on the shelf for two to four weeks.
If you thought Hard Knocks had practice blanketed with four cameras, here's what is in store Friday night from director Steve Trout: Three cameras on the ground, four up top and about twice as many players wearing wires with about eight.