Updated: 4:40 p.m.
Bengals wide receiver A.J. Green sent some angst through Bengaldom before Wednesday's practice when he revealed he'll be a game-time decision for Sunday's AFC North game for first place (1 p.m.-Cincinnati's Local 12) in Baltimore.
It must be black-and-blue division time. Green led a season-high nine players sitting out Wednesday's practice.
Green, who hyperextended his knee on his only catch of last Sunday's 24-17 loss to the Steelers—a 36-yard touchdown—said he won't practice Wednesday and probably couldn't play in a game because it is stiff and sore. He said an MRI read that he's got a bone bruise.
Meanwhile the team's top pass rusher, left Carlos Dunlap, returned to practice Wednesday in limited fashion for the first time since he injured his hamstring Nov. 6 in Tennessee. Also limited were center Kyle Cook (foot) and wide receiver Andrew Hawkins (hamstring).
Also Wednesday, cornerback Adam Jones said his hamstring injury that kept him out of last week's game is fine, but he's now dealing with a groin injury he suffered when he returned to practice last Wednesday. He says he won't practice this Wednesday, but he thinks he'll go Thursday and that he'll be able to play Sunday.
But, basically both key players are waiitng to see how the week goes. Green, leading all NFL rookie receivers in yards and touchdowns, is Cincinnati's best offensive player. Jones, who has yet to play a snap of defense this season, is trying to get back to fill the void left by the season-ending Achilles injury to the club's best cover cornerback, Leon Hall.
"Hopefully I'll be ready Sunday. I've been waiting for this opportunity. I have to think about my team, too," Jones said before Wednesday's practice. "They've been waiting on me patiently. I've had some nick-nacks. Now it's to the point I might have to play through a little pain to do what we have to do. I'm prepared. We'll see how it goes. I want to be 100 percent. I think I'll be 100 percent. My goal is to get out there and play fast without thinking."
Jones ran vigorously on the side, but that's not the question. The problem is how his injury responds in the back pedal, as well as turning, and cutting.
Green sounded like a lucky man Wednesday.
"Once I get walking around, it loosens up. I feel much better. Today it feels better than yesterday," Green said. "They said I dodged a bullet."
"Day by day, see how it goes through the whole week," said Green, and when asked if he could play Wednesday he said, "I don't know. Probably not."
Also out Wednesday were running back Brian Leonard (knee), defensive lineman Frostee Rucker (knee), cornerback Nate Clements (knee) and safety Chris Crocker (knee), all who sat out at least a day last week and played Sunday. Tight end Donald Lee (foot), who missed last week's game, was out again Wednesday. New additions were safety Gibril Wilson (ankle) and defensive lineman Jon Fanene (illness).
With the cornerback picture jumbled, Kelly Jennings, the former No. 1 pick acquired in a trade on the eve of the season, looks destined to start opposite Clements at right corner. Saddled with a hamstring injury himself when he got traded from Seattle, Jennings says this is the healthiest he's been and since he's been able to play three straight games for the first time as a Bengal, he says it it is also the most comfortable.
While safety Chris Crocker says defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer built this defense with Hall's cover skills in mind, he also says the Bengals aren't going to change much schematically.
"We're going to do what we do," Crocker said of the tight-coverage philosophy.
"I hope so," said Jennings, whose best cover skill is his speed.