Getting Healthy In Time For the Titans

The Bengals are hopeful of getting two of their young defenders back for this Sunday's game against Tennessee. JungleInsider.com looks at the injury situation of both teams and what Carson Palmer had to say about this weekend's Ohio State-USC game.

The Bengals got the services of safety Chinedum Ndukwe and defensive tackle Pat Sims back Wednesday as they began preparing for their home opener this Sunday against Tennessee.

Head coach Marvin Lewis said that doesn't necessarily mean the players will be on the field as part of the 45-man roster against the Titans but the just the chance to have both players back this week is a good sign for the Bengals. The team will attempt to even up its record after dropping the season opener at Baltimore, 17-10, last Sunday.

Both Ndukwe and Sims were expected to be heavy contributors to the defense before suffering injuries in the preseason that sidelined them for multiple weeks. Ndukwe went down with a knee injury during practice on Aug. 6 at Georgetown College and did not play in a single game this preseason. Sims suffered a turf toe injury against Detroit in the second preseason game.

The Bengals have 10 players listed on their injury report. Five players were held out of practice: C Kyle Cook (illness), S Dexter Jackson (thumb), CB David Jones (head), S Herana-Daze Jones (hamstring) and DE Frostee Rucker (foot).

Ndukwe and Sims were among five other listed as having limited participation in practice.

"It feels good – very good," said Ndukwe, who played in 14 games with two starts last season as a rookie. "They were real supportive of me as soon as I was ready to get back out there. I felt good this week so I decided to try it out and it felt good today. … As long as I'm healthy – and right now I'm healthy – and feeling good I should be ready. There is no more testing it out."

Sims, a third-round pick from Auburn this year, had been showing positive improvement signs prior to suffering the injury, which is a strain of the muscles around the big toe. It can be a particularly debilitating injury for a man weighing 320 pounds who is being asked to butt heads with other players that size.

"I hurt it a little bit at the beginning of practice but I got into a rhythm and kept going," said Sims. "I've been going for a couple of days but I hadn't tried to put no pressure on it until today. Today I went out there and didn't worry about it. If it was going to hurt it was going to hurt. It felt all right so I kept going. Today was pretty much a test day and I passed the test, I guess."

Ndukwe finished last season with 35 tackles, two sacks, three interceptions and a fumble recovery that he returned 54 yards for a touchdown in the season finale at Miami. He was one of four players on defense to record an entry in every stat category the team keeps.

Not too shabby for a player taken with the third-to-last pick in his draft class.

Lewis, however, cautioned against reading too much into practice participation in the middle of the week.

"We have a chance to have 51 healthy players at some point this week," said Lewis. "Somebody is going to sit down. You ask the question and everybody just assumes because the guy comes back but it's not necessarily that he's going to play. He's got to displace somebody and he's got a long ways to go. I'll make that determination through the week."

WHAT'S UP WITH ALBERT? – Tennessee's All-Pro defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth did not practice Wednesday due to a concussion suffered in the Titans' 17-10 win against Jacksonville. Haynesworth has told reporters that he only remembers the final play of the game. He suffered the concussion in the first quarter but returned against the wishes of the medical staff.

"Seven years and it's the first time I've ever gotten a concussion," Haynesworth said after the game. "They wanted me to stay out but I didn't think that would be a good thing for me."

CHAD NOT BITING – Titans linebacker Keith Bullock called out Chad Ocho Cinco this week, referring to his recent name change as "Oucho Cinco" and saying the Titans would be out for revenge this week for last year's 35-6 Bengals win against the Titans.

Chad wasn't about to get into any war of words with Bullock, who is a good friend of his.

"I'm not going to bite on anything. I'm not going to say anything," said Chad. "Keith can say what he wants and do what he wants. There's really no reason to feedback on him, especially the way we played last week. So I'm keeping my mouth closed and not adding any fuel to their fire."

Chad had one of his best games of the season last year against Tennessee when he caught 12 passes for 103 yards and three touchdowns. He had just one catch for 22 yards last week against Baltimore.

NO BACKING DOWN – Carson Palmer made some inflammatory statements this offseason about the Ohio State-Southern Cal matchup and now that the game is just a couple of days away Palmer is sticking to his guns. The Bengals quarterback recently told the Columbus Dispatch his final score prediction would be 38-14 in favor of his Trojans.

"38-14? I should have said 42-17," said Palmer Wednesday. "Whatever you guys want to write is fine. It's college football, anything can happen. I'm, of course, dying to see ‘SC win. I think it'll be a close game early and I think SC will pull away in the third and fourth quarter."

Palmer said he hasn't been able to find many takers when it comes to betting on the game. His lone exception has been Cincinnati Enquirer columnist/WLW-AM radio host Paul Daugherty. Daugherty will have to attend Palmer's weekly press conference with his face painter orange-and-black should USC win, while Palmer will have to an Ohio State garment if the Buckeyes win. Buckeyes head coach Jim Tressel has said he would supply a sweater vest.

"It's been tough to find a bet," said Palmer. "Daugherty didn't show up today. He's the only bet I made. We don't have any Ohio State guys on the team. Mike Vrabel won't call me and place a bet. There's a number of guys I know who don't want to mess with a bet, points or not, no matter what the spread is, people are worried."

Bengals president Mike Brown is big supporter of Ohio State, going back to when his father Paul Brown coached at the school in from 1941-43. Paul Brown's teams twice defeated USC, including in 1942 when the Buckeyes were named national champions.

Palmer has not gone so far to make a wager with his boss.

"I'm not going to make a bet with him," said Palmer. "I'm going to pass on that one."


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