Marvin Lewis got The Question last week. Now with the season finale Sunday (4:25 p.m.-Cincinnati’s Channel 12) in Baltimore, the players get The Question.
Do you want Lewis back?
“He's been a wonderful mentor. He's taught me a lot. He always pushed me. If he doesn't come back it's going to mean a lot to me because he meant a lot to me,” said safety George Iloka before Wednesday’s practice. “If he doesn't re-sign or come back, he left this place better than how he found it."
Iloka said, of course, they’d like to send out Lewis with a win but he also doubts they’ll know before kickoff because Lewis wants them focused on the game.
“He’d probably be mad I’m talking about it,” Iloka said.
Lewis gave every indication in his weekly Wednesday news bash he has yet to have The Talk with Bengals president Mike Brown. But left end Carlos Dunlap agreed it feels like an era is ending.
"With everyone going on, all the pub going on, yeah. We'll see. Come the new year it could be a new year," Dunlap said. "He's been a great mentor. I would love to see him come back. The decision is his to make. Whatever happens is going to happen."
With Lewis at the end of his deal, along with what is believed to be most of his staff, it remains to be seen who makes what decision. One thing veteran offensive lineman Clint Boling knows is he’s not making the call.
“I'd love to have Marvin back, but it's out of my control," he said.
INJURY UPDATE: Lewis indicated Boling is headed back to left tackle for his second NFL start there (“unless there’s a surprise”), which means left tackle Cedric Ogbuehi (shoulder) is done for the season. SAM backer Jordan Evans (concussion) made an appearance and was limited and there seems to be hope for the others that didn’t practice Wednesday as the week progress and play against the Ravens: WILL backer Vontaze Burfict (shoulder), cornerback William Jackson (knee), running back Joe Mixon (ankle) and slot receiver Alex Erickson (ankle).
Off his 168-yard game running back Giovani Bernard (ankle) was limited, as was tight end Ryan Hewitt (knee), cornerback Darqueze Dennard (knee) and safety Shawn Williams (concussion).
SLANTS AND SCREENS:
-Lewis listened to fellow linebacker Vincent Rey and gave rookie Hardy Nickerson a game ball for his effort coming off the bench last Sunday in the win over Detroit when Burfict and Evans were knocked out of the game on consecutive snaps in the last minute or so of the first half. Unlike in the blow-out losses to Chicago and Minnesota in Burfict’s absence, confusion didn’t reign in coverage on intermediate passes over the middle and after the game Rey and safety Josh Shaw praised Nickerson for his reliability.
“When we went back and looked at the Minnesota film it wasn’t so much them beating us, it was more us dropping a coverage here or there,” Nickerson said. “We got all that stuff cleaned up on Sunday.” …
-Lewis raved about Boling moving from left guard to tackle and how well he played against the Lions. He compared the degree of difficulty to moving to shortstop from first base in baseball. But as for a steady diet of it, Lewis appeared to be saying no when he called a guy he played last week (Dwight Freeney) and a guy he plays this week (Terrell Suggs) future first-ballot Hall of Famers …
-Randy Bullock drilled a huge 51-yard field goal with 4:42 left to give them the lead for good Sunday a year to the day he missed a 43-yarder at the gun that would have won the game in Houston.
“Never thought about it. Different game, different year, " Bullock said. “I think I’ve hit the ball pretty well since that kick.”
After hitting his first 50-yarder since 2014, he’s 17 of 19 this season and has hit nine straight since a 34-yarder got blocked last month: “Really, I’ve only missed one.”