Updated: 5:30 p.m.
According to the good people at the Elias Sports Bureau, the Bengals haven't started three rookies on offense on Opening Day since Sept. 14, 1969.
How long ago was that?
Moon rocks were still hot less than two months after the first lunar landing. A few weeks later the draft lottery for the Vietnam War assigned Sept 14 birthdays as No. 1. The Mets were Amazing. It was still the American Football League. Paul Brown coached the Bengals and it was before Don Shula coached the Dolphins, the team the kids beat, 27-21, at Nippert Stadium.
Quarterback Greg Cook returned to his college field at the University of Cincinnati to beat Miami with the help of fellow Bearcat Clem Turner at running back and Utah wide receiver Speedy Thomas.
Cook was a first-rounder, Thomas a third-rounder, and Turner a fourth-rounder and this Sunday if Clint Boling goes it's going to be first-rounder A.J. Green at wide receiver, second-rounder Andy Dalton at quarterback and Boling, the fourth-rounder at right guard.
Offensive coordinator Jay Gruden is glad to be taking his team on the road to Cleveland for Sunday's opener (1 p.m.-Cincinnati's Local 12) 42 years later.
"I think the young guys are good enough to play right now in the NFL," Gruden said after Wednesday's practice. "It would be different if they weren't. Andy, Boling and A.J. are definitely good enough NFL players to be playing right now. Sure, we wish they had more time. Sure, we wish they were two- or three-year veterans. But they are what they are. They've come a long way from day one of training camp and are very talented. We'll see how they do Sunday. It will be very exciting how they put a whole game together and how they perform under pressure."
Gruden wasn't pleased with how the offense as a whole performed in Wednesday's practice ("That's why I'm a little bit angry") but he remains upbeat.
"I think we have enough in right now where we can be successful and the guys can play fast," Gruden said. "It's my job to hold it back if I need to hold it back. Six weeks ago we started with zero, now we have close to 100 plays in the playbook for Week 1. I feel good about where they are. It's a matter of how they execute and it's my job to put them in the right position."
INJURY UPDATE: Cornerback Kelly Jennings (hamstring) and safety Taylor Mays (knee) worked on the side but didn't practice. Mays wore a helmet and shoulder pads. Guard Otis Hudson (knee) and OLB Dontay Moch (foot) remain shelved but they could be back as early as the Sept. 25 homer opener.
Left end Carlos Dunlap (knee), who didn't play any games in the preseason, and running back Bernard Scott (hamstring), who missed three of the four games, were full go Wednesday according to head coach Marvin Lewis' first injury report of the season. On Monday, the last day of practice with no report issued, they both looked full go.
THE BROTHERHOOD:In his first NFL start at middle linebacker, Rey Maualuga is calling Sunday's opener in Cleveland (1 p.m.- Cincinnati's Local 12) a "statement game" for the Bengals defense. And defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer underlined that statement before Wednesday's practice when he handed out new orange shorts.
On the bottom of the right leg are the words "The Brotherhood," and underneath that is the defender's number and under that is "Finish."
"Coach Zimmer got about eight of us together and it's something we decided on," Maualuga said of the meeting of defensive leaders. "It's about being a part of a family and relying on each other and believing in each other."
QUICK HITS: Left tackle Andrew Whitworth had a trivia question for rookie right guard Clint Boling before practice. "He's the answer man, he usually gets these, but he might not get this," Whitworth said. "Who was the last rookie guard to start against the Browns for the Bengals?" Before Boling could get it out, a rude reporter shouted it out. Whitworth, of course, in the second game of the 2006 season.
Boling is expected to do it Sunday and face another rookie, Browns No. 1 draft pick Phil Taylor, tackle from Baylor. Boling went against him every day at the Senior Bowl back in January when both played for the South and he came away impressed with his quickness for a big man.