The first work day of the AJ McCarron administration started like all the rest of the Bengals' Paul Brown Stadium quarterbacks schedules on Wednesday.
With a news conference.
But McCarron's week started on his off-day Tuesday, which stretched from 9 a.m.-6:30 p.m. with no lunch. He convened a meeting of some of his receivers in the morning and then huddled with backup quarterback Keith Wenning in the afternoon in preparation for his first NFL start Sunday (4:25 p.m.-Cincinnati's Channel 12) in San Francisco.
"I just wanted as much time as possible, just so we could watch film," said McCarron of plays in the game plan . . .
Cornerback Adam Jones has been a big fan of McCarron's makeup since training camp and remains so as an interested observer of what McCarron and offensive coordinator Hue Jackson are going to concoct.
"Love it," Jones said before practice. "The guy's a winner. The only thing you can say about him is that he's a winner. He prepares pretty well to give us great looks in practice. I'm eager to see what he can do with a full week of Hue behind him and see how it goes on Sunday. On offense all the other guys have to step up. A.J. (Green), Mo (Mohamed Sanu), (Tyler) Eifert. Just have to make it easier for him." . . .
Jones practiced Wednesday, but safety George Iloka (groin) and cornerback Leon Hall (back) didn't. Tight end Tyler Eifert, in concussion protocol after a head shot vs. the Steelers, didn't work and wasn't on the field. Rookie backup tackle Jake Fisher, who missed the game with a concussion, worked on the side in a helmet . Right end Michael Johnson (back) also didn't work. Jones was listed as limited, as was WILL backer Vontaze Burfict (knee) and center Russell Bodine (finger) . . .
To show the urgency of a QB making his first NFL start, left tackle Andrew Whitworth discarded his usual rest day and practiced and was listed as limited . . .
The Bengals made a slight foray into the veteran backup quarterback market the last two days, but couldn't secure anyone who met their needs and before practice Wednesday promoted Wenning to back up McCarron Sunday.
Wenning, a Baltimore fifth-rounder from last year who spent all of 2014 on the Ravens practice squad before doing the same this season in Cincinnati, backs up McCarron's first NFL start in his first NFL game. Sanu has five more NFL completions than Wenning, but Wenning has taken scores of practices.
"I feel like I know the offense well enough I could go in and move the ball," Wenning said.
The Bengals filled Wenning's spot on the practice squad with Georgia rookie wide receiver Michael Bennett. Bennett hasn't been in the league since they cut him at the roster cut down two weeks after the signed him on Aug. 19. The 6-3, 202-pound Bennett, who had three catches for 24 yards in the preseason, playedin 43 games from 20011-2014 at Georgia with 27 starts, 134 receptions, 1,607 yards and 17 TDs.
In a twist Wednesday, the Bengals worked out veteran QB Phillp Sims, the man once upon a time who was supposed to beat out McCarron at Alabama before he transferred to Virginia and then Winston Salem. . . .
49ers coach Jim Tomsula spent his Wednesday conference call with the Cincinnati media raving about the Bengals offense ("That's still a really good offense"), particularly the offensive line.
"I've got great respect for Paul Alexander and what he does,' said Tomsula of the Bengals offensive line coach. . . .
FINE FALLOUT: The ramifications of the Bengals-Steelers game-long brawl were still being felt Wednesday as both clubs prepared for this Sunday's game.
Despite Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger's suggestion that WLL linebacker Vontaze Burfict went for his knees, reports said the NFL didn't fine Burfict for the play. And reports out of Pittsburgh said Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown received a fine letter, although it's unclear for what.
Some Bengals weren't only upset about Brown diving at safety Reggie Nelson's knees on one snap, but they also took exception to tight end Matt Spaeth's back-side block on Burfict during running back DeAngelo Williams' one-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter. They point to video that shows Spaeth putting his helmet on Burfict's knee.
And if the Steelers are livid at Burfict, the No. 1 Pittsburgh villain appears to be safety Mike Mitchell, Northern Kentucky's own. After getting flagged for drilling tight end Tyler Eifert helmet-to-helmet on Cincinnati's first drive, Eifert left the game with a concussion.
Burfict had no comment before practice Wednesday, except that he was moving on to the 49ers.
NINERS INJURIES: Four starters didn't practice for the 49ers Wednesday: left guard Alex Boone (knee), inside linebacker NaVorro Bowman (shoulder/finger), wide receiver Torrey Smith (back/toe), and inside linebacker Michael Wilhoite (ankle).