Bengals back-up defensive lineman Andrew Brown has been known to go by "A.B.," at times, and wouldn't you know it, it looks like he's going to be the A.B., that is on Monday Night Football (8:15 p.m.-ESPN, Cincinnati's Channel 5) at Heinz Field and not the more well-known Antonio Brown, the former Steelers (not to mention former Raiders and Patriots) wide receiver.
At least that's the way it looked after Friday's practice, which ended with Brown carted off with cramps. All three defensive linemen that missed last Sunday's game in Buffalo didn't practice and were on the rehab field. Let's see what happens on Saturday, the last workout before Monday, but if head coach Zac Taylor does what he did last week, he'll activate pass rusher Carl Lawson even though he didn't practice last week, either. He didn't play in the game, with part of the reasoning he'd be farther along for the Steelers.
Iron sharpens iron. Week 4 prep continues for the Bengals' game against the Steelers.
But it looks like it may be too late for tackle Ryan Glasgow (thigh) and Kerry Wynn (concussion), although Wynn could be cleared at any moment.
That's why the Bengals' A.B. looks to get another shot after a rather tumultuous NFL debut in Buffalo Sunday. What didn't he do in his first 28 snaps? He went offside, he drew another flag for hitting Bills quarterback Josh Allen low on his follow-through and he cost them a point and a timeout when he was the extra man on the field.
But he also played his heart out at both end and tackle and according to profootballfocus.com had a hit and a hurry on Allen as well as two assists and a tackle. And, according to defensive line coach Nick Eason, made a terrific play that could have forced overtime.
"Man, it was unreal. Unreal," said the personable Brown of his debut. "Half the time I was like, 'Wow, this is live bullets in the field, not preseason. The real thing.' The other half of me was, 'Just go play.' By the time the second half came, I felt back in my groove."
Eason liked what he saw and takes it upon himself to get Brown better after his rookie year on the practice squad was cut short by injury last season.
"He's like a rookie and he's going to make mistakes. As a coach, I have to get him better, work with him before and after practice and he does that," Eason said. "He'll get better. I'm encouraged. He showed up in the preseason. He played with a lot of juice. The more reps he gets he'll be better."
Believe that Brown heard Eason and defensive coordinator Lou Anarumo in his ear plenty Sunday. As a veteran of 117 NFL games himself, Eason isn't about to destroy a guy for something he did once in a while himself, like go offside. But knowing that one of Brown's strength is his initial quickness (Lawson calls it "elite,") Eason had some advice for him.
"He's got something a lot of guys don't have. Exceptional get-off," Eason said. "If you watch the film in the preseason, he's the first guy off the ball almost every time. He's got to channel that energy and I told him to focus on the ball and just freaking go."
Which is exactly what he did with the Bills on the Bengals 16 on second-and-four, the clock ticking under three minutes and needing a field goal to tie. From left end, Brown bull-rushed right tackle Ty Nsekhe straight back into Allen and, well, let Brown tell you the rest.
"I held (Allen) for a second and a half. Got a hand on him and the tackle's arm still around my neck," Brown said. "I was not letting go. Then I just felt something pulling me off him. It was the tackle."
Instead of a holding penalty or an-in-the-grasp call that would have given the Bills a second-and-long or third-and-long and probably conservative play calls to get the tying field goal, Allen was off on an eight-yard scramble that led to the winning touchdown. But Eason saw something else, too.
"He got tackled on that play," Eason said. "But that's what Andrew does. He's a physical player and he gives you everything he's got."
Taylor is hoping to give all the linemen a break after a game three of them (right end Sam Hubbard with 68 snaps, left end Carlos Dunlap with 62, Geno Atkins with 58) played at least 76 percent. Rookie tackle Renell Wren, with 23 snaps, played the least.
"We'd like to have a better rotation," Taylor said, "but unfortunately that wasn't the way we were able to do it last game."
DUNLAP, HUBBARD LIMITED: Brown's friends on the D-line, starting ends Carlos Dunlap (hamstring) and Sam Hubbard (ankle) were back on the field limited Friday after being out Thursday as they headed to what would probably be full go Saturday. Safety Shawn Williams (back) and slot cornerback B.W. Webb (forearm) were limited for a second straight day, but they should be able to go, according to what head coach Zac Taylor said Thursday.
Left tackle Cordy Glenn was limited again with a concussion, but it's hard to see him playing after being out six weeks. Cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick (illness) was limited. And Brown was marked as limited, too, with the cramps.