Updated: 6:30 p.m.
Adam Jones returned to practice Tuesday at both cornerback and kick returner after a camp-long battle with muscle pulls, and head coach Marvin Lewis said after the workout in 91-degree heat that Jones could see action in Friday night's 7:30 p.m. preseason opener against the Jets at Paul Brown Stadium (11:35 p.m.-Cincinnati's Channel 12).
Cornerback Jason Allen is still out with an unspecified injury. So was SAM backer Dontay Moch and rookie quarterback Tyler Hansen didn't take a snap after not working Sunday. Bernard Scott (hand) remains in a cast and was on the field riding a bike, but there was no sign of cornerback Brandon Ghee (wrist) as speculation rises he may be out for the year.
With the Jets game three days away, defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer wasted no time pulling out the yellow "Leader of the Day" vest and giving it to cornerback Leon Hall.
"We call it the gold jersey," Zimmer said. "We don't like yellow."
Could it have been anyone but Hall? In one of the more remarkable rehabs in Bengals history, he'll line up to start the preseason opener 268 days after surgery for a torn Achilles.
"It means you're hurt and can't contribute to the team. Just kidding," Hall said. "He's done it for a few years now and I think it's a pretty good idea. It kind of singles you out for the day and it rotates around."
Mike Nugent prepped for the team that drafted him in the second round in 2005 by hitting fields goals from 32, 40 and 45 yards, while Thomas Weber hit two of three on tries from 37, 45 and 48.
Hall likes the look of rookie receiver Marvin Jones, and in a matchup of West Coast agent Doug Hendrickson clients, there has been some give and take. Hall says Jones is sneaky fast and Jones caught another long one Tuesday.
Quarterback Andy Dalton dropped in a nice long one over the shoulder to rookie receiver Mohamed Sanu down the sideline and fit in another long one to A.J. Green on the sideline in a zone. Dalton underthrew Armon Binns deep for an incompletion, but also hooked up with him over the middle.
The team worked in shoulder pads and shorts in its next-to-last practice before the game in front of 640 fans at the PBS practice fields. The Bengals go again Wednesday at 3 p.m.
The Bengals are way behind the Jets in camp fights, and while New York head coach Rex Ryan exploded after Tuesday's blowup and stopped practice twice before ordering sprints, the Bengals could only counter with a quick shoving match between backup center Clint Boling and rookie defensive tackle Brandon Thompson.
After practice, special teams coordinator Darrin Simmons talked about one of his points of emphasis and it is a bit surprising since the Bengals finished seventh in the NFL last year in punt return average.
"We had a good punt return avergae a year ago. It's a year ago, but we've got to eliminate penalties and make beter decisions back there," Simmons said. "There was a 39-yard net against us. That stinks. I'm not happy about that. We have to improve that net. It's twofold: make better decisions and hang on to the ball, return it. We had 15 penalties on punt return. We have to eliminate those."
SLANTS AND SCREENS
» Lewis has basically swapped Friday Aug. 17 and Saturday Aug. 18 on his camp sked.He is now going to practice on Friday the 17th, the day after the Bengals play in Atlanta, and not work on Saturday the 18th. The Aug. 17 workout is on the PBS practice fields and the gates open at 2 p.m and practice is from 4-5 p.m. Tickets are available starting at 10 a.m. at the North Ticket office located on the PBS plaza. Office closes at noon, and any remaining tickets are to be available at the practice field gate when gates open at 2 p.m.
» Carlos Dunlap is where he always wanted to be: The No. 1 left end on Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis's depth chart. But he didn't know it until the media informed him before Tuesday afternoon's practice on the Paul Brown Stadium practice fields.
"What depth chart?" Dunlap asked.
The depth chart that also has his 2010 draft mate at defensive tackle, Pro Bowler Geno Atkins. Dunlap says he and Atkins have a friendly rivalry going since Dunlap led the team in sacks with 9.5 as a rookie and Atkins led with eight last year.
"I'm going for 10 this year," Dunlap said. "I've never done that before."
Dunlap is desperately trying to make sure the hamstring issue that held him to 4.5 sacks last season doesn't bite him again. So he put together his own offseason regimen culled from advice from various players, coaches and trainers. Among those players he consulted that have had hamstring problems were former Bengals wide receivers Chad Johnson and Terrell Owens, as well as current WILL linebacker Thomas Howard.
Dunlap also opted not to go back to school at the University of Florida like he did after his rookie season. He's a semester shy of a management degree and he plans to get it after he's done playing. He said he sloughed off in training while taking classes and, "I got hurt."
» Dunlap's former Florida teammate, Tim Tebow, makes his second PBS appearance in Friday night's 7:30 preseason opener during his Jets debut (11:35 p.m.-Cincinnati's Channel 12) and Dunlap may do what he never did at Florida.
"Never touched him," Dunlap said. "Hands off."
He says the media buzz around Tebow had to be at its highest while he was at Florida.
"He does all the right things," said Dunlap, who says he's the guy you want on camera representing players.
» Atkins did get to tackle Tebow while he played at Georgia, and even though Atkins is on the first team and Tebow is the Jets backup, he's still prepared.
"Who knows? They may have a goal-line package and put him in," Atkins said. "It's like tackling a running back. He runs hard."
» He's going to be doing everything but windows Friday night and second-year wide receiver Andrew Hawkins wouldn't want it any other way. Special teams coordinator Darrin Simmons has Hawkins No. 2 on the depth chart returning punts and kicks, but since No. 1 returner Brandon Tate is also a No. 1 receiver and Simmons saw Tate return a total of 93 times last season, look for Hawkins to get some work.
Hawkins also is one of Simmons's gunners from last season's top 10 punt cover team and looks to be the No. 1 slot receiver when the Bengals go three wides.
"I love it. I told the coaches when I got here I'd do anything," Hawkins said.
Hawkins actually said that he thinks returning punts and kicks can extend his career, which is assuredly not a majority opinion among players.
"Nobody ever thought I'd have a career. So I've already had a longer career than people thought I'd have," he said.
Hawkins is thinking from a roster standpoint, not a physical standpoint. He returned his only two punts since high school last preseason. And while he returned kickoffs during his two seasons in the CFL and two last preseason, he didn't take any in the regular season.
"It's all brand new," he said.
After Tuesday's practice, Simmons talked about one of his points of emphasis and it is a bit surprising since they finished seventh in the NFL last year in punt return average.
"We had a good punt return avergae a year ago. It's a year ago, but we've got to eliminate penalties and make beter decisions back there," Simmons said. "There was a 39-yard net against us. That stinks. I'm not happy about that. We have to improve that net. It's two fold. Make better decisions and hang on to the ball, return it. We had 15 penalties on punt return. We have to eliminate those."
So Hakwins is going to get some shots, as well as the Jones Gang, Adam and Marvin.
» Middle linebacker Rey Maualuga knows Friday night kicks off the biggest season of his four-year career.
"Contract year," he said. "I can't see myself playing for any other team. ... I hope it works out."
Maualuga is the defense's Jermaine Gresham. He plays a position where their peers have had huge success and they can't help but compare themselves. Offensive coordinator Jay Gruden has told his Pro Bowl tight end not to worry about the stats of 2010 draft mates Rob Gronkowski and Jimmy Graham and worry about being the best tight end in the Bengals system.
Maualuga got a lot of the pub at USC when he played with backers Brian Cushing and Clay Matthews, current Pro Bowlers. He admits it's in the back of his mind but that it can't be.
"I'm not Jesus. I'm not Superman," Maualuga said. "Everyone talks about my other fellow companions that are very successful. Brian and Clay. 'Where's that guy we thought we drafted from 'SC?' My mindset is I can't worry about what people think. I've got to be the best I can be under Mike Zimmer's defense."
» Maualuga had a lot of nice things to say about the third-team backer, free-agent rookie Vontaze Burfict. The Bengals feel like Burfict is playing better than he did last year at Arizona State and the draftnicks would be surprised to hear Maualuga say he's taking some notes off what the kid does.
"He's way ahead of schedule. Way ahead of where I thought he would have been," Maualuga said. "Way ahead of where I was last year at the mike position. Smart, he's very patient. That's where I tend to learn my game from watching him play in our practice reps."