Defensive tackle Geno Atkins surfaced on Thursday’s injury report with a knee issue, but indications are it won’t take him out of Sunday’s game (4:25 p.m.) in Oakland. Tight end Tyler Eifert had a rest day but he also is expected to play.
On Friday, wide receiver A.J. Green (ankle) is expected to be ruled out for Sunday, missing his 14th straight game dating back to last season. He was in sweats and not on the practice field again. Although wide receiver Alex Erickson (back) returned to work in limited fashion Thursday, the Bengals could promote wide receiver Damion Willis from the practice squad to give them five wide receivers and be content to go with four linebackers after the release of linebacker Preston Brown.
Right tackle Bobby Hart (shoulder) was limited for the second straight day.
HOMETOWN JOE: Bengals running back Joe Mixon, a Bay Area native from Oakley, Calif., (42 miles from Oakland and 50 miles from San Francisco) plays in the Black Hole for the first and last time Sunday. The Raiders plan to move from the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum to their new stadium in Las Vegas and it got Mixon to thinking before Thursday’s practice how his father, John Mixon, took him to the Coliseum for the first time when he was 17 and playing at Freedom High School.
“Jamaal Charles went off and then it got ugly,” Mixon recalled of the game six years ago.
Charles, the Chiefs running back, led Kansas City’s 56-31 win over the Raiders with eight catches for 195 yards and four touchdowns. He also had 20 yards rushing and a touchdown.
“Even though I’m from there, I’m still on the other team and that doesn’t mean they’ll be real pleasant,” said Mixon of the famously raucous crowd. “I’m sure some probably will, but the majority won’t. At the end of the day I’ve got to handle my business like I know I can.”
Mixon comes home as the defending AFC rushing champion in the throes of a frustrating season, but he hopes his season-high game of 114 yards and career-high game of 30 carries last Sunday jump-starts the Bengals running game. He expects there to be some friendly faces.
“Probably more than 100 of just close friends and family,” Mixon said. “That’s not counting people I know from high school.”
John Mixon, his son’s trainer in the offseason and famed prep athlete in his own right as Northern California’s Player of the Year in basketball for Daly City just south of San Francisco, is making the trip from Sacramento to watch another Raiders game. This time he won’t be with Joe, but he thinks his dad is going to have a seat in back of the Bengals bench.
“My dad is a Raider fan. I’m a 49ers fan,” said Joe, which is why Jerry Rice is his favorite Raider because most of his Hall-of-Fame career was spent with the 49ers. “He’s been kidding me the last couple of weeks about, ‘Give me a reason not to talk you this offseason.’ He’s kidding. He’s with me all the way.”
PAULIE G. LOOMS: Old friend Paul Guenther pokes his head out of the Black Hole to greet the team he worked for during 13 seasons before Raiders head coach Jon Gruden hired him as defensive coordinator. You’ll forgive Guenther if he’s not exactly in tune with the Bengals offense since he left after the 2017 season. Since then they’re running a new scheme and there’s only one guy that started in the same spot in that 2017 finale in Baltimore and in Oakland Sunday. Mixon. The only other guy that started that game on offense and this one is Trey Hopkins, the right guard two years ago and the center this weekend.
“He's a great coach and I rely on him in a lot of ways,” Gruden said of Guenther in a conference call this week. “I like everything about him. I like his teaching ability, his passion for the game, his production, his work ethic. I was very close to the Bengals - my brother (Jay) used to work there - and I really liked their coaching staff and was impressed with Paul Guenther from the jump so I'm happy to have him here.”
Guenther, by the way, is absolutely livid over the NFL's season-long suspension of Raiders linebacker Vontaze Burfict. Guenther and linebackers coach David Lippincott, who both coached Burfict during his first six seasons in Cincinnati, recommended Gruden sign him after the Bengals released him back in April. But Burfict was suspended for the last 12 games of the season after a helmet-to-helmet hit.
"He did everything I asked. The guy came in here and was great. Voted a captain," Guenther said. "And he's suspended for the season after his first penalty as an Oakland Raider."