Surgery dims

Feeling no pain after throwing 30 balls during seven-on-seven Tuesday, Carson Palmer says surgery has become less and less of an option and that there is going to be a concrete decision by the end of the week.

Palmer, working on the field in his first practice since the Oct. 5 game in Dallas, worked for the scout team against the defense and said he threw passes as long as 40 yards.

As he left Wednesday's news conference, head coach Marvin Lewis was asked about the possible surgery timetable and said he didn't think Palmer would need surgery but, as he often reminds the media, he's not a doctor.

Still, the small tear in the ulna colateral ligament of Palmer's throwing elbow appears to be healing with rest and strenghtening exercises.


Palmer
"Felt good. Nothing great to report, nothing out of the ordinary," Palmer said before he was supposed to throw again in Wednesday's practice. "Nothing bad to report ... threw a couple of long balls. Nothing to report."

But Palmer did report that he's getting a better feel for how far he's progressed now that he's throwing into "holes" of a defense.

Asked if surgery is now less of a possibility, Palmer said, "Yes ... we're going to evaluate it after I get through this week. We'll see what happens there, but from what they've said it looks like a lesser possibility than it was months ago."

Lewis said if it continues to rain Wednesday, Palmer won't throw again until Friday (they're off Christmas Day on Thursday), the last full-scale workout of the season. And he was iced because of the Christmas Eve downpour. Also, wide receiver Chad Ocho Cinco (hamstring) didn't practice and it looks more and more like he won't play.

Palmer, The Ocho, left tackle Levi Jones (back) and defensive tackle Pat Sims (upper arm) all didn't work Wednesday and it was estimated on the injury report that they wouldn't have practiced Thursday, putting them in doubt for Sunday. Running backs Cedric Benson (ankle) and Kenny Watson (hamstring) have been listed as limited for both days, as is cornerback Jamar Fletcher.

Also Wednesday, quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick, one of 13 players that can become an unrestricted free agent, admitted he'd probably get a better chance to play in a less stable situation than one that had Palmer at quarterback.

Fitzpatick's game management has led to the last two wins in which the defense hasn't given up a touchdown in the last six quarters with two touchdown passes and no interceptions. Asked at his Wednesday's news conference about his future, Fitzpatrick could see it a couple of different ways.

"If you look at it, last year and this year were two different stories. Last year, Carson takes every snap. This year, you expect the same thing, and every year that he plays, just as Peyton (Manning) and Brett Favre, you expect them to take every snap, and then something unexpected happens," Fitzpatrick said. "Like Tom Brady this year. It's just one of those positions that you never know when something funny's going to happen, when you get rolled up on. There are situations where the stability at the position is going to tell you that maybe you have better chances to play where it's unstable. Like I said, we'll see what happens. Obviously I enjoyed playing this year, and I enjoy playing."

In the wake of what appears to be a devastating knee injury to Stacy Andrews, left guard Andrew Whitworth said he could make the move to right tackle if asked next year even though he's never played on the right side. Whitworth does everything but golf left-handed, yet he says he could learn how to get into a right-handed stance without much of a problem.

The Cincinnati chapter of the Pro Football Writers Association named wide receiver T.J. Houshmandzadeh the club's MVP and right guard Bobbie Williams as the "Good Guy."

Dennis Roland, believed to be the tallest Bengal in history at 6-9, gets his first NFL start Sunday. Williams says he's not worried about him against former Chiefs first rounder Tamba Hali because "he's a guy that comes to work to do a job and he's a technician." Bengals defensive end Robert Geathers came into Georgia with Roland and says he's greatly improved.

"He was the only recruit on the O-line and I was the only recruit on the D-line, so we had some battles as freshmen," Geathers said. "I had fun with him, but he's really improved his technique since then."

It is a matchup of the two worst sacking defenses. The Chiefs are 32nd in sacks per pass and the Bengals 31st, but Hali leads the Chiefs with three of their nine.

Rookie receiver Andre Caldwell is drawing raves for his physical play and not only on the punt cover team. His downfield block after he came in motion on running back Cedric Benson's 46-yard run helped spring the Bengals' longest run in 68 games.

"I'm a big, physical guy," said the 6-0, 200-pound Caldwell. "I'm not going to back down."

Chiefs coach Herm Edwards sounded as if he already had contract extension even though Kansas City hasn't named a new general manager yet. "How you doing men?" Edwards jovially began his Wednesday conference call with the Cincinnati media fresh off the practice field. Told it sounded like they had a good practice, Edwards said, "Practice always goes well. It's those games we have trouble with finishing."

The Chiefs, at 2-13, have lost seven games by seven points or less. They are one of three teams (Detroit and St. Louis) that can't finish behind Cincinnati in the draft order. The Bengals could draft as high as fourth or as low as seventh.

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