Updated: 8-26-12, 7 p.m.
When Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis observed his team came out flat in last Thursday's loss to the Packers and needs to play with more zip, it sounds like the first time he's uttered those words since the big kids took over the team last year.
On Sunday, one of the big kids, quarterback Andy Dalton, wasn't about to dwell on it.
"I wouldn't put too much into the way we came out. We know the potential we have. Take the things we can improve and go from there," he said before practice. "You never want that to happen. If it does you have to find ways to overcome it. We didn't do a good enough job as a first team. Good thing is it's still preseason."
Although the first offense failed on seven of eight third-down tries, produced 25 yards on seven carries for the backs, and had a 39.6 passer rating, Dalton remains upbeat.
"It wasn't a step back. We were close on a lot of things we did in the game; just missed them," he said. "I think we're going to be just fine. I'm not worried about what happened on Thursday."
He didn't use the excuse of a watered-down preseason game plan against the midseason Packers blitzes and pressures.
"They've had a full training camp to go over every single blitz so they can call it at any time. The game-planning isn't the same as a normal week. We still have to pick stuff up," he said.
One of the guys who didn't pick up the blitz and cost the first offense a first down, veteran running back Aaron Brown, was cut Friday. When the Bengals got on the Packers 1, they kept their rotation going with No. 2 running back Cedric Peerman and fullback James Develin in a drive that ended in a field goal. The Bengals won't be doing the latter in Baltimore and they don't think BenJarvus Green-Ellis will be doing the former.
Lewis seems confident. Dalton said he's scheduled for just one series in Thursday's preseason finale (Cincinnati's Channel 12) in Indianapolis. Even if it's a three-and-out, that's probably going to be it.
"Just get a good drive going and hopefully go down and score points." Dalton said. "I hope so. That is what they said."
Colts rookie quarterback Andrew Luck may play a little more than that as the Bengals try to beat a No. 1 overall draft pick for the sixth straight time. Dalton had the honors in the last one when the Bengals beat Cam Newton's Panthers in the third preseason game last year, 24-13, as Newton hit just six of 19 passes for 75 yards.
But that's what the Bengals have done to those guys of late. They held Detroit's Matthew Stafford to 11-of-26 for 143 yards in 2009 and Eli Manning had to throw 37 times to get 201 yards on 19 completions in the Bengals win over the Giants in 2004. When the Bengals went into Houston to beat the Texans in 2002, they held David Carr to less than 200 yards on 18-of-32 and cornerback Artrell Hawkins returned a pick 102 yards for a touchdown.
The Bengals beat a No. 1 defensive tackle to start the streak when they downed Courtney Brown's Browns in Cleveland in 2000. The last time they lost to a No. 1 pick was that same year when the Browns beat them in the opener.
When asked, Dalton offered Luck some advice.
"Just be the same guy he's always been," he said. "He started for four years in college. He knows what it is like to come into a new team and start right away. Do what you're supposed to do, show the guys in the locker room they can trust you and you're going to put them in the right situation. Just be yourself and go play."
SLANTS AND SCREENS:
» At his Sunday news conference it sounded like head coach Marvin Lewis planned to protect his starters as he plans for the Sept. 10 season opener in Baltimore.
"That's important that we're not stupid tough or dumb tough right now at this point," Lewis said. "We're kind of going to bite the bullet and make sure we get to where we need to get to."
» While cornerbacks Jason Allen, Adam Jones and Dre Kirkpatrick figure to make their debuts Thursday, don't look for middle linebacker Rey Maualuga and tight end Jermaine Gresham with their sprained knees or running back BenJarvus Green-Ellis with a foot issue. You'll see them Sept. 10.
But Maualuga and Green-Ellis were with the club in full pads and on the field Sunday in the portion of the practice that was open to the media on the grass fields at Paul Brown Stadium. Jones was dressed and went through some of the drills. Allen wasn't on the field. Center Kyle Cook (foot) was also out as was SAM backer Dontay Moch (unknown).
"We want to hopefully be sitting here on Friday staying just as healthy as we are right now," Lewis said.
» Lewis is also banking on left end Robert Geathers (knee) for the opener and says he's close to practicing but he wasn't on the field Sunday. Left end Carlos Dunlap, expected to be questionable for Sept. 10 with a sprained knee, is doing work on the side that Lewis says "is a real positive" because he needs to push on bodies, but he also wasn't on the field.
» Lewis wouldn't say if defensive tackle Pat Sims (hamstring) is headed to the physically unable to perform list (PUP) and out the first six weeks of the season. But the answer was on the field and Sims wasn't there.
» Kirkpatrick said before practice he's going to go his hardest to see if he can play Thursday after missing the first three weeks of camp with a bone spur around the knee.