Updated: 5:20 p.m.
While his wife labored 21 hours Wednesday to give birth to their first child, Bengals safety Chris Crocker took a break to swing by Paul Brown Stadium to get the game plan for Sunday's game against the Bills at PBS (1 p.m.- ESPN 1530). Before taking the field for the first time this week Thursday, he didn't baby a secondary that is yet to have an interception.
"We have to take the ball away; that's one of our things," Crocker said. "We've gotten a lot of turnovers on defense. Fumbles, a lot of sacks, but we haven't taken the ball out of the air and this is a good game (to do it)."
It will be recalled that Bills quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick threw three interceptions in his first nine throws (one got called back) before he warmed up back on Nov. 21.
The Bengals have just one interception in their three games and got it the last moments of the opener in Cleveland when pressure and rain conspired to get one for defensive end Michael Johnson. They have recovered three fumbles, but in the eight previous seasons of the Marvin Lewis regime the secondary has never gone the first four games of the season without a pick.
The Bills secondary didn't get its first interception of last season until the 10th game, which was against the Bengals and came on safety George Wilson's interception of Carson Palmer in the end zone.
SIMPSON MUM: Bengals wide receiver Jerome Simpson hasn't said anything since he has been under a drug investigation and he still hasn't. He jovially met the press in front of his locker Thursday to say that "Practice is going good, glad I get to prepare for the Buffalo Bills. God Bless, keep the faith. I'm done."
And with that he walked off to keep preparing for the Bills. Although he didn't start last week after not practicing Thursday and Friday, he played about 25 snaps and caught just one ball for six yards.
Middle linebacker Rey Maualuga talked, saying that he still hasn't received a fine letter from the NFL for Sunday's unnecessary roughness call when the officials said he piled on after a tackle. The league must have heard Maualuga's defense that it was too late to pull off the hit.
TWO FOR FANENE: Defensive lineman Jon Fanene didn't want to say much either after his two-sack game Sunday. After Fanene missed all but about two quarters of last season with a hamstring injury, head coach Marvin Lewis is praising Fanene for taking off right from his 2009 form when he had a career-high six sacks.
"I don't want to talk about sacks or – it makes it like individual," Fanene said before Thursday's practice. "I don't want to be an individual teammate. Stats (are) stats, but my personality and my attitude is I want to win. I want to win as a team. It doesn't matter who make big plays Sunday on the field. The focus this year is to win. If I get a sack, it's a sack. It doesn't matter if it is me, (Domata) Peko, (Carlos) Dunlap, everybody is here for each other."
Fanene, a free agent, was also one of the last guys to get into training camp in a contract negotiation that went for a nearly three weeks to secure a one-year deal. But, at 29, he doesn't feel like one of their most seasoned guys. Heading into Sunday's game, Fanene, a 2005 seventh-rounder, has been with the team longer than anybody but linemate Robert Geathers, a 2004 fourth-rounder.
Fanene says the young D-linemen, like the third-year Johnson and second-year Dunlap, have revived him.
"They really push me. I'm not getting younger. I'm getting old," Fanene said. "The more I see them making plays, the more I see them practice hard, it pushes me to better myself and that's the great thing about this D-line. We're young, but it's hungry, active and try to get there, you know?"
INJURY UPDATE: Safety Gibril Wilson, not on Wednesday's injury report, wasn't wearing his helmet on Thursday and was out with a knee injury. Coming off ACL surgery, he could just be getting rested. Fanene (knee) and Geathers (shoulder) have been limited Wednesday and Thursday, as has guard Otis Hudson (knee). Safety and special teams ace Jeromy Miles (groin), limited Wednesday, rode the bike early in practice and did not practice Thursday.
In Buffalo, wide receiver Stevie Johnson (groin) went full go Thursday. Starting right guard Kraig Urbik (knee) didn't work for the second straight day.