Update: 2 p.m.
Left tackle Andrew Whitworth (knee) pulled a fast one as he went on the field for Friday morning's final workout before Sunday's opener in Chicago (1 p.m.-Cincinnati's Channel 12) against the Bears.
He dressed in his No. 77 jersey and carried his helmet after a few weeks of not doing either. Then he promptly took off the jersey and went to the side with the rehab group. Who knows what he did after the media window ended, but if he didn't work Friday then that makes it all but official he won't play Sunday, ending the club's longest starting streak at 67 games.
Whitworth said Wednesday he was under the impression he would be listed as doubtful, one of three designations on the injury report that is released after Friday's practice. And that's what he was called. But even though he wasn't seen rehabbing, there is a growing optimism around the team he'll be back soon, maybe as soon as next week's home opener against the Steelers in a Monday night game on ESPN.
After Friday's practice, Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis deemed his status, "cloudy," but there is a bright outlook on Whitworth's replacement, six-year veteran Anthony Collins. Collins hasn't started at left tackle since he worked the last six games of the 2008 season in place of the injured Levi Jones, but he's also started 12 games at right tackle and got a lot of snaps at both spots this offseason and preseason because of Whitworth's injury and right tackle Andre Smith's spring absence.
Collins re-signed before the 2012 season with the Bengals looking to make him the first man off the bench at either tackle or guard after he proved his mettle with seven starts in the first eight games of the AFC North title season of 2009 in place of the injured Smith at right tackle.
"it seems like he's always been there to play. Whether it was '09, or whatever it s been. AC's been able to answer the bell and answer the call...He's the insurance policy. It was to his advantage because he was going to be the next guy in. Last year he worked to play guard. He's grown as a player and a person and it's fun to see."
Backup cornerback Brandon Ghee (concussion) and backup offensive lineman Mike Pollak (knee) were ruled out. MILES VS. HESTER:The Bengals are matched against the NFL's most lethal punt returner when they take on Chicago's Devin Hester and his 11 career touchdown returns. Safety Jeromy Miles, one of the gunners who was a key figure in Cincinnati's punt team leading the NFL last season in punts downed inside the 5, is thrilled with the assignment.
"It's hard to believe that I'm going against a guy I watched in high school and college. He was one of my favorite players," said Miles, who noted Hester is now pretty much just returning punts and not playing receiver. "He looks like he's got a lot of energy. It looks like he's back to his normal form. It's going to take everybody to stop him."