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Quick Hits: Noises Off; Jonah Encouraged, Tee Questionable; Stanley Morgan Goes Home With Early Bengals Memory; Andy Dalton Again

Joe Mixon (28) and Stanley Morgan, Jr. (17), at home getting ready for dome.
Joe Mixon (28) and Stanley Morgan, Jr. (17), at home getting ready for dome.

For all those trivia nuts, when the Bengals practiced Friday for the first time ever in the sprawling IEL indoor facility to prep for Sunday's game (1 p.m.-Cincinnati's Channel 12) at the Caesars Superdome in New Orleans, they worked to AC/DC's "Thunderstruck," as  head coach Zac Taylor ironed out any noise issues with communication.

Even more importantly, Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow gave the thumbs-up after the minute bus ride down the Mehring Way block and back to Paycor Stadium.

"Fantastic," Burrow said and his Pro Bowl partner agreed.

"Field is soft and nice. It's cool," said wide receiver Ja'Marr Chase and center Ted Karras proclaimed it the best indoor he's been in during NFL stops in New England and Miami.

"And it's the first one as long as 100 yards," Karras said.

Cornerback Eli Apple, an Ohio State product, also liked the feel.

"Reminds me of the (facility at the University of Cincinnati)," Apple said. "But it's bigger. Nice to have for the winter."

Since it was such a nice day, the specialists zoomed back to Paycor to kick after stretching as special teams coordinator Darrin Simmons careened a cart back up Mehring.

Evan McPherson is going to be able to kick in the facility, but punter Kevin Huber probably not, although Taylor said the jugs machine helps with the end-over-ends.

"It was great. It was awesome how they got it up and running as quickly as they did," Taylor said.  "It's plenty functional. As good as I've ever seen in my career. The ceiling is the highest I've seen."

WILLIAMS ENCOURAGED, HIGGINS QUESTIONABLE: Although Taylor listed him as limited in practice and questionable for Sunday, left tackle Jonah Williams looks ready to go five days after dislocating his kneecap. It's murkier for wide receiver Tee Higgins (ankle) after he was listed the same.

"Jonah looked good. Very encouraged," Taylor said. "Tee, I can't tell you at this point if he'll play in the game. We'll take the next 36 hours."

Higgins started last Sunday night in Baltimore but could go just 10 snaps and didn't play in the second half. Taylor felt he was able to take a chance with Higgins because there was the potential that the player active in Higgins' spot might not have even played.

"(Higgins) could feel terrible tomorrow or ready to go or be either way Sunday. We just have to play it out," Taylor said.

Starting tight end Hayden Hurst (groin) went limited all three days and was the only other player listed as questionable. That would seem to bode well because last week Hurst didn't practice Friday before playing 51 snaps while catching a 19-yard touchdown.

Starting right tackle La'el Collins (back) and rotational running back Samaje Perine (abdomen) went full and weren't questionable. Tight end Devin Asiasi (ankle) also went limited all three days but isn't questionable.

Jonah Williams says he spent five hours each day in the training room this week and says the kneecap feels much better than earlier in the week. He said after doing field work Thursday he pretty much worked the entire practice Friday with a knee brace and plans to wear it Sunday.

"Just made sure the swelling stayed down and the leg was strong around the knee," said Williams, who played the second half Sunday night after he got hurt and missed the last six snaps of the first half and was named Pro Football Focus' top Bengals offensive player.

Williams said it would have been nice practicing on grass Friday like normal, but he enjoyed working for almost the whole practice in the new indoor and "we're going to be on turf Sunday anyway."

STAN THE MAN: For all the talk about the Elvis-Beatles Return of Joe Burrow and Ja'Marr Chase to New Orleans and the presence of three former Saint starters on the Bengals top ten scoring defense in Eli Apple, Vonn Bell and Trey Hendrickson, wide receiver Stanley Morgan, Jr., may very well have the best story and is no doubt being considered for game captain.

From what can be pieced together through fragments of memory and the Bengals media guide, Morgan, the special teams dynamo who played at the Big Easy powerhouse of St. Augustine High School, first went to the Superdome when he was 13 and saw the Bengals play the Saints in the 2009 preseason opener.

Morgan went as a member of a Tulane football camp and remembers lining up with his group for the national anthem in front of the Bengals as he gaped at wide receiver Chad Johnson. He remembers being on the field before halftime, but doesn't remember New Orleans native Chis Henry scoring the Bengals' only touchdown with seven seconds left in the first half.

"I remember Chris Henry, of course, but I don't remember that. It was so long ago," Morgan said. "It means so much to me. It's the first time I've played an NFL game in my hometown and it's going to be in front of a lot of the people that made me the man I am today."

His mom was with him that night in '09 and she'll be there Sunday. There are 20 tickets under the name of that long-ago football camper.

"I'd really like to do something special," Morgan said.

NOISES OFF: Taylor didn't exactly hold a 1990 concert in there to get ready for dome noise.

"We're not trying to break our guys' ear drums," Taylor said. "We tried to give them a little bit of a taste. At the end of the day you just want to alter the communication between me and the quarterback, the quarterback and the huddle, anything at the line of scrimmage. Often times when you're in a place like that, any level of noise causes a little bit of stress in communication if you can't see the quarterback's lips. You have to make sure your visual context is really good if he's signaling. It doesn't have to be the most deafening environment we've had. Just a stress in communication."

BATTERED HOSTS: The Saints are dinged. Three wide receivers, Mike Thomas, Jarvis Landry and Deonte Harty, are out. That's a total of 33 catches and three touchdowns out of 110 and seven, respectively.

And if Higgins might be out, four-time Pro Bowl cornerback Marshon Lattimore is definitely out.

ANDY AGAIN: As expected the Saints are rolling out old friend Andy Dalton for the third straight week in place of Jameis Winston. Dalton, on the same roster with Burrow for about five days, is 2-0 against the Bengals since he left after the 2020 draft. He's 1-0 against Burrow, but had to exit last year's win in Chicago early with an injury.

Dalton is trying to beat his ex-club for the third straight season with a different club and is trying to match Jeff Blake's 3-0 in the annals of former Bengals starting quarterbacks against Cincinnati. Blake actually beat the Bengals three times in 2002 and 2003 when the Ravens took an '02 sweep.

Dalton, who plays the Bengals two weeks before his 35th birthday, has played well off the bench. He's 1-1 with a come-from-behind win last week against Seattle in the 29th game winning drive of his career. The first 24 are a Bengals record.

"He's a professional," said Bengals defensive coordinator Lou Anarumo this week. "A really good professional quarterback who has played and seen everything and doesn't make a whole lot of mistakes. You aren't going to fool him very often. You should know. He was here for a long time."

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