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Quick Hits: Zach Kerr's Strange Journey To Bengals And Playoffs; Goodell Heartwarmed By Bengals Wild Card Win; Playoff Nuggets

Zach Kerr lines up at practice Wednesday.
Zach Kerr lines up at practice Wednesday.

Two-time NFL rushing champion back Derrick Henry, looking to play his first game for the Titans since getting a steel plate in his foot, told reporters Wednesday in Tennessee, "We'll see how this week goes."

How about the week the newest Bengal is having?

From Deflategate to getting benched in favor of a three-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year two nights ago, to Seamless Joe Burrow Bengals' first AFC Divisional game, Zach Kerr suddenly may finally get his first NFL postseason snap Saturday (4:30 p.m.-Cincinnati's Local 12) in Nashville.

Kerr, swiped off the Cardinals practice squad Monday morning, found out the Cards had moved him to the roster for their Monday night Wild Card Game in Los Angeles against the Rams.

"I was there watching, but I kind of knew no matter what happened, I was going to Cincinnati," Kerr said Wednesday after practice. "It was crazy … If the Cardinals had won, I guess they would have had to make a decision."

Only in the NFL.

Since arriving in Arizona back on a Tuesday (Nov. 9) and playing that Sunday (Nov. 14), the 6-2, 334-pound Kerr had been on the active roster, but with defensive tackles J.J. Watt and Jordan Phillips cleared, they cut Kerr and signed him to the practice squad and the Bengals grabbed him. But then on Monday the Cards elevated him for the game and the Bengals let him play it out.

Yet for the third time in his eight seasons he was inactive for a playoff game with Watt getting the call and watched the Cardinals lose to the Rams, 34-11, with an ear piece that allowed him to alert guys going into the game of the call.

Now, suddenly, Kerr is learning new calls. Although with Henry teed up for a team that has run it 16 more times than passed it, it's pretty clear what he'll be asked to do.

"Just help stop the run," Kerr said. "Be where I'm supposed to be. My biggest thing is don't be wrong. Do it the right way. Do it the Bengal way."

With defensive tackle Josh Tupou (knee) limited for a second straight day on Wednesday, it looks like Kerr, 31, could get that shot if they decide he can give them 15 or so snaps. Defensive line coach Marion Hobby's depth has been cleared out, starting with starting three technique Larry Ogunjobi's season-ending broken foot, as well as tackle Mike Daniels' season-ending torn groin.

That leaves nose tackle D.J. Reader, three technique B.J. Hill and seldom-used rookie Tyler Shelvin looking at playing in his fourth NFL game after his last outing in the finale two weeks ago in Cleveland when he played a career-high 42 snaps. Even if Tupou plays, it looks 50-50 that Kerr, an undrafted rookie out of Delaware when he was inactive for the Colts in the 2014 AFC title game better known as "Deflategate," gets into a playoff game after 92 regular season games.

"He seems like he'll be able to learn the playbook pretty well," Hobby said. "We'll make sure he has a good role in the system. But for the most past he just has to get in here and help us."

If they play him, it won't be the first time this year Kerr has showed up and played.

He played four games for the 49ers, including 23 snaps in the Opening Day win over Detroit. When the Niners cut him Nov. 6, the Cards signed him three days later and five days after that Kerr played a season-high 24 snaps in the 34-10 loss to Carolina. He played two more games with the last one on Dec. 5, a 33-22 win in Chicago he had a dozen snaps in a game the Cards held the Bears to 112 yards rushing.

"I've done that before," Kerr said. "Practice two days and play."

He doesn't know much about the Bengals, but he knows enough.

"It's exciting. All of a sudden I'm playing in an AFC Divisional game," Kerr said. "I know Joe Burrow. I know Ja'Marr Chase. I know D.J. Reader, if you've got a quarterback, you've got a chance."

ROGER WILL DO: NFL commissioner Roger Goodell appeared on a Bengals fan forum Wednesday in a virtual event moderated by fellow Jamestown, N.Y. native Dan Hoard, the radio voice of the Bengals, and hosted by Bengals president Mike Brown.

Goodell, who's going to Saturday's game in Nashville, felt the good vibes of last Saturday's Wild Card win over the Raiders in ear-splitting record crowd at Paul Brown Stadium.

"You see the fan base and how much it meant to them. I kept looking at the signs in the stands," Goodell said. "I know how much it meant to Mike Brown and the entire organization. You want to see people succeed that have that passion for the game and work so hard and the Bengals have done that. They've done an incredible job putting this roster together, this coaching staff together and they're really building excitement. It's hard to win in this league and it's hard to win over the long term. To see them have success after so long without that playoff victory and to see them get that I think it was heartwarming for all of us but maybe Raiders fans."

JOLTIN' JOE POISED: When the Bengals beat the Raiders despite getting outrushed, 103-83, it marked just the third time in the 13 playoff games in 2020 and 2021 that the team that didn't win the rush battle won the game.

Running back Joe Mixon had a career year in yards (1,205), carries (292) and touchdowns (13), but since his career best 165 yards on Nov. 28 against Pittsburgh, he hasn't had more than 65 yards or 19 carries and he's had just 29 carries in the wins over the Chiefs and Raiders while Burrow has thrown 73 times.

"I would like to think they're almost daring us to run in a sense," Mixon said before Wednesday's practice. "Joe Burrow, he ended up getting hot within these past few weeks. He's rolling right now, so we're basically rolling the hot hand. When my number is called I try to do whatever I can to deliver. Like I said, I know there's going to be times where we pass more in a sense and we're going to need the pass more than we do the run. At the same time I know at some point down the stretch within these next few games, hopefully we can keep playing after this one, but I know for a fact that there will be a time where they're going to need me to come up big and when they do I'm going to be there to deliver."

Check out some of the best snapshots from the Bengals Wednesday practice ahead of Saturday's AFC Divisional Round game against the Tennessee Titans.

SLANTS AND SCREENS: On Wild Card Weekend, the Bengals went in with the fewest playoff games on their roster with 57 and won. The Bengals and Bills were the only teams that won with the fewer games of experience. Now with 100, the Bengals still have the fewest and the Titans are next with 138 …

Bengals safety Mike Thomas and former Bengals running back Giovani Bernard, now with the Bucs, both got their first playoff win last weekend in their ninth seasons. The only streaks that were longer were Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford (13 seasons) and 49ers left tackle Trent Williams (11 seasons) …