Updated: 5:40 p.m.
Almost all hands were on deck Thursday morning when the Bengals worked among swirling light snow on the Paul Brown Stadium turf with only left tackle Anthony Collins and cornerback Terence Newman not practicing. And Collins was in sweats on the field. Cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick (illnes) was also listed as not practicing.
It looks like Newman (knee) may not go in Sunday's 1:05 p.m. wild card game at PBS against the Chargers and miss his fourth straight game since he hasn't practiced yet following his sprained MCL against the Colts on Dec. 8.
But everyone else may be ready to go even though the bulk of the injured went limited. Tight end Tyler Eifert (neck) who hasn't worked since he got hurt Dec. 22 against Minnesota, was suited up along with tight end Jermaine Gresham (hamstring), limited on Wednesday. Both were limited Thursday. The missing brigade of Wednesday resurfaced with wide receiver A.J. Green (knee), left guard Andrew Whitworth (ankle), right tackle Andre Smith (ankle), center Kyle Cook (foot) and defensive lineman Wallace Gilberry (concussion) were all back limited. Linebacker Vinny Rey (ankle) went limited for a second straight day.
Nickel back Chris Crocker (knee) was added to the report Thursday and went limited.
For the second straight day in San Diego, running back Ryan Matthews (ankle) and wide receiver Eddie Royal didn't work.
And head coach Marvin Lewis made sure his men were in game conditions with Thursday's weather mirroring Sunday's forecast. On Thursday they worked in 29-degree weather and a brisk 15 mile-per-hour north wind. The National Weather Service in Wilmington, Ohio is calling for Sunday's kickoff to take place in the mid-30s with a 90 percent chance of what could be snow or rain or both with the precipitation to taper off during a game played in a light wind out of the north and west at five miles per hour.
It probably makes no difference. Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers is 5-3 in his career in games played in temperatures colder than 35 degrees and the Chargers are coming off wins in the last 39 days in Denver (35 degrees) and Kansas City (24 degrees).
TICKET UPDATE: Jeff Berding, the Bengals director of sales and public affairs, said Thursday the business community has reached out to the club and has spurred an active day on the phones in an effort to sell out Sunday's game. it's believed the Bengals are going to get an extension until 4 p.m. Friday, the deadline for lifting the local blackout.
EXPERIENCE FACTOR: Lewis looks to be showing his playoff experience. He may or may not be recalling how former Steelers coach Bill Cowher used a derisive form of the Bengals Who Dey chant (We Dey) to help rally his troops in that first playoff loss in 2005. On Wednesday he showed his team a clip of Chargers coach Mike McCoy addressing his team last week after San Diego beat Kansas City in overtime to make the playoffs. According to NFL.com, McCoy doesn't say a whole heck of a lot, but a voice can be heard saying, "We owe 'em baby, we owe Cincy!" while another supposedly mockingly says the team chant of, "Who Dey?"
That was enough for Lewis to show his club the video, which is on the Chargers Web site, in order to remind it San Diego has an axe to grind. The Chargers have won four straight since they lost to the Bengals, 17-10, at home on Dec. 1.
"I showed them the video this morning of Mike's postgame, how they're even pointing to us," Lewis told the San Diego media this week. "There was even some 'Who Dey' chants they had in there and everything. They 'owe Cincy' and all that. We know we've got to be ready. Our guys aren't overconfident ever. That is not the way we operate around here. ... What we did in San Diego doesn't matter now; we don't gain any extra points for that."
Does it all matter?
"I'm not sure what his intensions were and different guys will take it different ways," defensive lineman Wallace Gilberry said after Thursday's practice. "They have unfinished business and so do we. It's going to come down to our will against their will. Who wants it more. They were excited about winning and coming to The Jungle and we're excited about hosting them."
Gilberry had some fun when asked about the Who Dey line.
"Obviously he wants to play for the Bengals," Gilberry said. "I don't know who it is, but he's either a secret Bengals fan or he wishes he was here. I would never have said whatever their chant is. 'Bolt Up?'"
WELL ACQUAINTED: Gilberry knows the Chargers tackles well, but his sack out in San Diego last month on third down that blew up a drive late in the first quarter came against guard Chad Rinehart. When Gilberry was at Alabama he had annual duels with Auburn's King Dunlap, the Chargers left tackle, and he's known rookie right tackle D.J. Fluker ever since Fluker was in high school in Gilberry's home county of Baldwin in Alabama.
"I walked into a gym at a high school basketball game and tripped over his feet. He was sitting in the front row," Gilberry said. "I looked down and asked him, 'How big are your feet?' and we've been friends ever since."
The answer for the 6-5, 339-pound Fluker is 20-plus. He and Gilberry have been keeping in touch throughout the year.
"He's a really good kid and he's strong. When he understands it all, he'll be dangerous," Gilberry said. "I'm really familiar with both of these guys."
DEFENSIVE VOTE: For the second time in as many AFC North titles the Bengals MVP comes from the defensive side of the ball, according to the reporters that cover the team daily. In a tight race between WILL backer Vontaze Burfict and quarterback Andy Dalton, the Cincinnati chapter of the Pro Football Writers of America gave it to Burfict by a vote of 22-20. A points system was installed after cornerbacks Leon Hall and Johnathan Joseph won the award following the 2009 title and Burfict and Dalton each had three first-place votes on a ballot three players are listed.
"If there hadn't been a points system, it would have been a tie with Vontaze and Andy," said The Cincinnati Enquirer's Joe Reedy, the chapter spokesman. "It speaks to how strong this defense is that even in a year the offense cracked the top 10 it was still a defensive MVP."
Defensive tackle Domata Peko was named Good Guy and the only surprise is it took him eight seasons to win it. When he got his award after practice Thursday he summed up Burfict as well as anyone.
"Just his body language. He plays with that fire and that gets you going. It gets us all going. If all of us play like that, and that's what we've been doing," Peko said.
Here is why an MVP has to come from the defense. The Bengals have had 30 turnovers this season and three have gone for touchdowns. Of those 27 remaining drives, the Bengals forced 12 punts while allowing just five touchdowns and nine field goals, as well as a missed field goal. A total of 17 of those drives started at the Bengals 47 or closer and only three went for TDs. One TD drive started at the Bengals 11, another at the Bengals 1, and the other one, from the Bengals 36, was surrendered after the first drive of the season.