BY GEOFF HOBSON
Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis isn't just looking to look good Monday night. At 1-4, there are no moral victories.
"This team, this building, this city needs to win a football game," Lewis said before Saturday night's practice at Paul Brown Stadium.
Lewis sent his players out under the lights to simulate Monday's schedule, and said he'll have the same starting lineup that played in Cleveland, except for fellow rookie Caleb Miller replacing Landon Johnson at middle linebacker. Lewis said Johnson overtook Miller last week, and "you have to practice right in order to play." Johnson missed the second half last week after taking a blow to the head.
Lewis reiterated he's not worried about the size of his 225-pounders in the middle, but did say he doesn't see Johnson in the middle long term ...
RB Chris Perry (probable with a pulled abdomen) practiced Saturday for the first time this week ...
ABC analyst John Madden attended Saturday's practice and predicted the Bengals wouldn't win eight games like they did last year, just as the Cowboys wouldn't win 10.
"That next step is tougher than the first step," Madden said. "They're finding that here in Cincinnati and they're also finding it out in Dallas ... part of it is injuries, part of it is changing quarterbacks, and having to go through a bumpy road. You have to go through that. If they can get Carson Palmer some help, if he proves he's the real deal, then it all works out and you forget about it." ...
Al Michaels, the Reds play-by-play man from 1971-73 and Madden's sidekick in the Monday Night booth, planned to visit where he used to live in suburban Cincinnati in Kenwood. It's his first trip back since working the 1995 baseball playoffs, and he acknowledged that ABC didn't think the Bengals would be 1-4. But they're not alone. They also didn't think the Chiefs and Dolphins would be struggling and they're on twice each.
"When you make the schedule out these days, who knows what?" Michaels said. "Cincinnati looked to be an up and coming team. Carson Palmer looked to be the kind of guy you'd want to put on Monday night fairly early in the season. Rudi Johnson; Marvin did such a great job last year. Nobody can figure this thing out anymore. I'm sure the Bengals were hoping they would be doing a lot better. Obviously we were too, but that's the way it goes."