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Quick Hits: Wilson Back in Bengals Middle; Rewind To Bengals-Chiefs '03: 'The Crowd Was Electric'

Peter Warrick seals the signature win of the Marvin Lewis Bengals with a 68-yard punt return.
Peter Warrick seals the signature win of the Marvin Lewis Bengals with a 68-yard punt return.

Logan Wilson is in, but Trae Waynes is out for Sunday's Bengals' bid (1 p.m.-Cincinnati's Local 12) to clinch the AFC North with a win over Kansas City at Paul Brown Stadium.

Also back for the defense is backup edge Khalid Kareem, who hasn't played since he received a concussion making a game-saving forced fumble and recovery in Denver two weeks ago. Rookie Cam Sample, a defensive lineman primarily backing up the edge, was ruled out when he didn't practice all week after hurting his hamstring on one of last Sunday's first special teams plays.

Wilson, their middle linebacker who has missed the last three games with a shoulder injury, returns in time to replace the other starting linebacker after Germaine Pratt went on the COVID list earlier in the week.

But with the Bengals secondary looking to contain Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes' dangerous array of threats, they also lost Waynes to the COVID list Friday. Waynes, who has yet to play three straight games in his two seasons as a Bengal, played 20 snaps last week as the first cornerback off the bench. Also out is special teams cornerback Jalen Davis (ankle) after he didn't practice all week.

That could mean John Brannon, a second-year cornerback who signed to the practice squad two weeks ago after playing one game with the Chargers last season, gets elevated to the roster and makes his Bengals debut.

Also placed on the COVID list is wide receiver Trenton Irwin, inactive the last three weeks.   

After Friday's practice head coach Zac Taylor left some hope for Pratt to return but admitted, "time is growing short." Yet he was optimistic about how Wilson went full go at practice all week. Before he got hurt covering a punt against the Chargers Dec. 5, he had been having a break-out year in his second season with a team-leading 90 tackles and four interceptions.

"Logan looked really good this week in practice and is ready to on Sunday," Taylor said. "He's been a playmaker for us and forced some turnovers."

BACK IN THE DAY: Willie Anderson, make that Pro Football Hall of Fame finalist Willie Anderson, was there at the creation on Nov. 16, 2003. So were the Chiefs and their torrid win streak and a Hall-of-Fame tight end named Tony Gonzalez.

Sound familiar, yet?

It was not a dark and stormy night, but a gray, 54-degree day at Paul Brown Stadium when first-year head coach Marvin Lewis gave birth to the 21st century version of Who-Dey as the 4-5 Bengals knocked off the 9-0 Chiefs to go into first place that late in the season for the first time in 13 years.

"That was our signature win," Anderson recalled this week. "This (Bengals) team has already had some moments because they're in Zac's third year. That was our first moment. But if they win, that will do more for them than it did for us."

That's because a win over the two-time AFC champion Chiefs and their eight-game winning streak would give the Bengals their fifth division title and eighth playoff berth of the century and the first post-appearance for Taylor and second-year quarterback Joe Burrow.

"This team," said former Bengals linebacker Brian Simmons, "can match the Chiefs point-for-point. You don't want to have to do that, but they can if they have to."

Simmons was there at the creation. He led them in tackles that day. So was Anderson's fellow Hall finalist, then Chiefs head coach Dick Vermeil. And Bengals wide receiver Chad Johnson was there, too. Quarterback Trent Green and his 9-0 Chiefs were on the cover of Sports Illustrated that week and if you still have one of them, Johnson will still sign it with the word "Guaranteed."

"Yeah, Chad guaranteed it, but that didn't bother me," Simmons said. "I'd rather have him say that than we're going to lose. But that was reflective of our team. We thought we were going to win. There was nobody on that team that thought we were going to lose. Which was remarkable for a team that went 2-14 the year before. It shows you what a great job Marv did building it. The crowd was electric."

Simmons still remembers. How the smoke from pregame fireworks hovered over the field early on. "The opening kickoff was the Fog Bowl." How the defense short-circuited the Chiefs' powerful offense and held Bengals killer Priest Holmes and Gonzalez to a pair of field goals. How wide receiver Peter Warrick turned into the PDub of Florida State with a 68-yard punt return TD and 77-yard TD catch. Both in a fourth quarter running back Rudi Johnson killed with many of his 165 yards rushing on just 22 carries.

"Just like any other win over a good team," Simmons said. "All three sides contributed in a big way. Yeah, I think it did catapult us. Wining just breeds confidence."

SLANTS AND SCREENS: Taylor is optimistic backup quarterback Brandon Allen can be available after spending the week on the COVID list …

The edge should be in good shape with not only Kareem back, but Wyatt Ray coming off the COVID list after missing last week …

Wide receiver Mike Thomas is also back off the list after missing last Sunday, giving special teams a lift …