Updated: 3:35 p.m.
The Bengals didn't wear pads at Wednesday's practice, just shells, but center Kyle Cook is pumped up about his first official work since late August. Cook has been on the injured reserve-recall list all season after he underwent surgery for an injured ankle about 10 days before the regular-season opener. The Bengals now have a three-week roster exemption as Cook works back, so the thinking is he'll return for the Dec. 9 Paul Brown Stadium game against the Cowboys, but head coach Marvin Lewis said before practice he's not putting any time frame on it.
Also back Wednesday was wide receiver Andrew Hawkins in his first work since he injured his knee in the Nov. 16 practice and missed the last two games. Tight end Richard Quinn (hamstring), who has yet to be active for a game, was out Wednesday.
Cook and Hawkins were listed as limited, as were cornerback Terence Newman (shoulder), running back Cedric Peerman (neck), and defensive tackle Pat Sims (thigh).
"I assume I'll be limited at first, but you know me, I think I can go right away, but it's not my call," Cook said. "Today is huge. Obviously the big thing is to see how it feels after practice. I feel good. I haven't done much today, just the (morning) walkthrough."
Asked if he thought he'd be able to go before three weeks, Cook indicated he does "but it's not my call."
» Sporting a bruise under his left eye, Bengals left tackle Andrew Whitworth said the Raiders involved in escalating Sunday's fight are "cowards," and he wasn't talking about his opponent in the fracas. Whitworth said it wasn't defensive end Lamarr Houston, but others that clawed his face in the pile and threw punches.
"I thought it was pretty cowardly. Those guys know who they are," said Whitworth, who didn't name them. "It doesn't shock me. It's a team that's had the season they've had and they're frustrated and a lot of their guys haven't done a whole lot. They're talked about for being big and talented but they don't do anything.
"It would be nice if they got to see you face-to-face, but those guys like to play that way, so that's fine."
Whitworth doesn't consider himself a two-time offender of the fighting rule because he says his confrontation with Jaguars tackle John Henderson on Nov. 2, 2008 was self-defense. So he doesn't expect a suspension. But he knows a fine is coming and he doesn't expect it to get picked up by quarterback Andy Dalton, the man Whitworth felt he was protecting following Houston's hit on Dalton on a play blown dead.
"I'm not asking anybody to pick up for my mistakes. My mistakes are my own. I'll own up to them. I'm man enough to do that," he said. "It's not something I need to condone. But I felt I was doing the thing I needed to do."
Whitworth, the Bengals representative to the NFL Players Association, says he doesn't know who the third men in were ("I haven't watched the film. If I watch it, I'll go find those people, so I really don't want to know.") but he says the NFL has to respond to those situations.
"If the NFL is going to continue to take the stance that you can't enter a fight area or you get fined, then they've got to hand down severe punishments for guys that take those cheap shots and take punches and eye gouge and do all this stuff at the bottom of piles," Whitworth said. "Because if not, then you're saying that if a teammate gets jumped by five guys and gets the snot beat out of them and gets severely hurt to where they can't play the next week, you're threatening guys to fine them who are trying to help him. They say you even are fined for peacemaking. So they don't want anybody to enter a fight area, which doesn't make any sense. I mean, if you can't protect your own guy, then the guys that are taking cheap shots need to either be suspended, fined heavily or something done for taking those kind of cheap shots."