CINCINNATI BENGALS (0-0) at NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS (0-0)
KICKOFF: Sunday, 1:00 p.m. ET
VENUE: Gillette Stadium
LOCATION: Foxborough, Mass.
TV: CBS (Jim Nantz, Phil Simms)
PREDICTION: Patriots 33-24
KEYS TO THE GAME: The Bengals' defense prefers to be the tone-setting aggressor. Defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer uses bump coverage with cornerbacks Johnathan Joseph and Leon Hall often working without the protection of safety help over the top. That's a flammable coverage scheme against Randy Moss, but the Bengals can afford a risk with the Patriots' shaky offensive line and sporadic running game. Using three- and four-wide receiver formations -- often including rookie TE Jermaine Gresham in the slot -- the Bengals should be able to spread the Patriots out and attack their thin secondary. That will give QB Carson Palmer options and create serious creases for RB Cedric Benson.
FAST FACTS: Bengals WR Terrell Owens needs 49 receiving yards to join Jerry Rice and Isaac Bruce as the only players in NFL history with 15,000 ... The Patriots are 8-0 in home openers at Gillette Stadium. ... QB Tom Brady averaged more than two TD passes per game at home last season.
--RB Brian Leonard practiced for the first time on Thursday since injuring his foot in the Hall of Fame Game on Aug. 8. He is still doubtful though for Sunday.
--WR Andre Caldwell did not practice on Thursday due to a hamstring injury. If he does not go, Jerome Simpson would be part of the game-day 45-man roster.
--DT Antwan Odom could be facing a four-game suspension for using performance enhancing drugs. It is currently in the appeal process with no announcement imminent.
--OT Andre Smith, who is the backup to Dennis Roland at right tackle, is also backing up Bobbie Williams at right guard. The move is mainly for versatility.
--WR Chad Ochocinco needs 48 yards to reach 10,000 for his career.
--DE Jonathan Fanene was listed as full participation in practice and should be ready to go on Sunday.
--DT Geno Atkins was listed as full participation in practice after being limited on Wednesday due to a knee injury.
--QB Tom Brady is fine despite an early-morning automobile accident and was at practice Thursday. He is still listed as probable with a right shoulder injury.
--OL Nick Kaczur missed practice for the second consecutive day Thursday with a back injury. He may not be able to play Sunday, opening up an opportunity for second-year tackle Sebastian Vollmer.
--TE Aaron Hernandez practiced Thursday despite an ankle injury and appears ready to make his regular-season NFL debut Sunday. Hernandez had a strong camp and could be a red-zone weapon on offense.
--WR Julian Edelman was limited in practice Thursday due to a foot injury. With limited depth at receiver, the Patriots will need Edelman to help out on the outside and also in the slot to give Wes Welker a breather from time to time.
--LB Jermaine Cunningham is practicing despite an ankle injury that limited his effectiveness in the preseason. With so many moving parts at outside linebacker, Cunningham figures to play a major role Sunday.
This report courtesy of The Sports Xchange
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