Darqueze Dennard has missed the last two workouts.
-Bengals safety George Iloka had an unlikely ally this week in his successful fight with the NFL to overturn his one-game suspension for his hit on Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown at the end of his tying catch with 3:51 left.
Safety Mike Mitchell, the Steelers' arch-villain after shots on Bengals stars A.J. Green and Tyler Eifert, works out with Iloka in the offseason. So the two are already friendly and talk often. Especially after the league overturned Iloka's suspension Wednesday, the same day Mitchell took up for Iloka publicly and warned the league where such suspensions might kill the NFL.
On Thursday, Iloka, insisting he was just trying to finish the play and knock the ball out, pretty much agreed. He referenced a play from Monday night's 23-20 loss to Pittsburgh. Running back Le'Veon Bell scored on a 35-yard pass when Bengals cornerback William Jackson thought Bell stepped out of bounds and didn't hit him because he didn't want to draw his second unsportsmanlike conduct penalty of the night and automatically get ejected.
"I personally think, like Mike said, if you start suspended guys for that, the league is going to turn into a brand of football in which if you're worried about losing viewers, you'll lose a lot more," Iloka said. "You're going to start having more plays in which Willie did on the sideline because you're so scared of getting a flag. And I would turn off football to see more plays like that. He told you legit, like I was scared to get a personal foul."
Iloka, who has just four unnecessary roughing penalties in his six seasons, understands the game has to be policed to be made safer. But he says the NFL has to narrow its focus.
"Fines. Understandable. Repeat offenders. Understandable. Plays away from the ball, off ball incidents, post-whistle kind of things. OK, all right," Iloka said. "Those might warrant suspensions if deemed unreasonable. But on-ball kind of plays, which are football plays, to suspend for that is going to set a bad precedent to where guys are just going to pull up and give away things. I'm not a betting man, but I can guarantee you next it will be Vegas complaining, talking about they're throwing these games and things like that."
-Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis said after Thursday's practice that rookie wider receiver John Ross hid his injured left shoulders so he could play. When the problem became so great he couldn't sleep, Ross went to the team Wednesday. While Ross was learning he needed surgery, Lewis was telling a news conference he was in the lineup after missing the previous three games as a healthy scratch.
Lewis said it sound like Ross originally hurt the shoulder extending for a deep pass on a wet field.
"He's had this and dealt with it. In his mind he's dealing with it. He felt it not getting better," Lewis said. "But making it harder to sleep, so he wanted to get it looked at again and have the scans compared. He had the scans and he's had this condition which some guys that have – we've had a couple guys that have the shoulder on one side, generally it's parallel on the other. I think earlier the physician in Washington mentioned that to him and then your symptoms seem to escalate.
Ross' struggle to transition into the NFL started when surgery on his right shoulder took him out of all of spring ball and the first 10 days or so of training camp. He should be ready in time for spring ball this time.
-Pro Bowl defensive tackle Geon Atkins (toe) didn't practice after he woke up with a sore toe Thursday. They don't think it's serious. He heads up an injury report that has eight players missing the last two days of practice. The big name there is cornerback Darqueze Dennnard (knee). He came back after he got hurt in the second quarter Monday, but sat Wednesday and Thursday. That leaves them with just three cornerbacks practicing: William Jackson, Josh Shaw and KeiVarare Russell.