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Wednesday update: Zim says blame me; Leonard, Caldwell back; Housh entertains

Updated: 5:50 p.m.

You don't hear this very often in the cover-your-butt caution zone of professional sports.

After Wednesday's practice, Bengals defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer took the blame for Sunday's brutal effort that saw the Patriots offense score 17 points in the season's first 21 minutes. From the bulky game plan to not getting his regulars enough time in the preseason games.

"The whole thing was my fault. The whole fiasco was my fault," Zimmer said. "I know better than what I did. I've got big enough shoulders to take it."

Zimmer told his players as such, but he also said, "This week it's on them. This is the last time I take it."

"The players are good guys. They do what they're asked to do. They play hard. They always do. They played hard the other day," Zimmer said. "I had them (thinking about) too many things. Paralysis by analysis on a lot of things ... we forgot to play football. My fault … I thought we were the '85 Bears."

Zimmer was responding to some player observation that his unit needed an attitude adjustment, but he defended them and ripped himself. For now...

And looking back on the five preseason games, Zimmer thinks he should have played everybody more. They played, but not for an extended time beyond 12 to 15 snaps.

"Protecting them; babied them," he said. "There were some drives Sunday that were 12 to 15 plays."

» Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis said in his Wednesday news conference that he expects running back Brian Leonard (foot) and wide receiver Andre Caldwell (groin) full go in practice after being inactive against New England. Defensive lineman Jon Fanene (hamstring), who left the game early, didn't go.  Indications are that internet reports saying Fanene is going to be out three to five weeks look to be accurate.  WILL linebacker Keith Rivers (foot), who left and came back Sunday, wasn't dressed. Running back Cedric Benson (shoulder) was limited. But he's ready for this one: "Words can't even describe how anxious I am. I'm always excited to get back out there and get things going, especially after a week like last week."

For Baltimore, tight end Todd Heap (shoulder) didn't practice Wednesday while wide recever Anquan Boldin (thigh), middle linebacker Ray Lewis (foot), SAM linebacker Jarret Johnson (back) and defensive tackle Terrence Cody (knee) were limited. 

» No one is more proud or impressed the way Ravens middle linebacker Ray Lewis opened his 15th season Monday in New York than the Bengals' Lewis, his defensive coordinator for his first six NFL seasons.

"What you see on Sundays is what I saw every day in practice for six years," said Lewis, who can recall only two times when Ray-Ray said he couldn't go all-out in practice.

"That's a lot of practices," Lewis said.

» Safety Chris Crocker had an interesting take on the slew of pass-interference penlties committed by the Jets secondary Monday in the 10-9 loss to Baltimore. He thinks the Jets may have bought into the perception that the Ravens have a crew of possession receivers and weren't ready for the deep ball. The Bengals have seen it regularly. As Zimmer said, Baltimore isn't shy in taking shots downfield with quarterback Joe Flacco.

» Former Bengals wide receiver T.J. Houshmandzadeh rattled off the greatest opposing player conference call in at least 20 years Wednesday as he prepares to make his first appearance at Paul Brown Stadium since he left after the 2008 season via free agency as a member of the Ravens.

A few highlights of the nearly 20-minute candor-fest that only Housh can do:

Houshmandzadeh admitted that he let some things cloud his judgment during the negotiations to keep him here and he said his advice to free agents is if the money is close, "Stay where you are."

But he also noted the $19 million the Bengals spent on Laveranues Coles and Antonio Bryant to replace him and said, "I could have saved them a lot of money. I tell Carson (Palmer) that all the time."

Houshmandzadeh said that the Bengals will consistently be good because of the presence of defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer: "You look at Zim and you say, 'He's a bleep, but he's cool.' ... Zim got those guys playing."

Houshmandzadeh was talking about Bengals cornerbacks Johnathan Joseph and Leon Hall. He says Joseph is one of the top six or seven corners in the league that Hall is in the top 10, and third corner Adam Jones could be in the top 10: "I just like the way J-Joe plays, his temperament. Leon is solid. They say he's a coach's dream."

He also said Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco reminds him of a young Carson with the quiet personality and "big arm."

Houshmandzadeh said there was no truth to the reports that there was interest on both sides in a return to the Bengals before the season after Seattle cut him. "That's a lie," he said of his alleged interest.

"And you know what's funny? I read the Internet all the time. I read everything," he said. "I read the good crap about me and the bad crap about me. It doesn't matter. I don't care. I read I wanted to come back Cincinnati. That's a lie. I didn't even talk to anybody. Marvin texted me, 'Keep your head up. You're going to be all right.' That was it. All that 'T.J. wanted to come back...'

"Now had T.O not been in Cincinnati, that's different. But he was there. That was never in consideration. Because I already knew. You got T.O., you got Chad, and then Shipley showed he could play. I didn't consider it because of what they have on offense. Period. If you say, 'OK, it's open competition, the best guy is going to play, of course, I'm going to be the best guy.' That's how I feel."

 » Bengals kicker Mike Nugent is working on a streak of three straight games with a 50-plus field goal, two in the preseason and one in the opener. Elias says the last guy to do it in the regular season was Oakland's Sebastian Janikowski back in December.  

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