Bengals preparing for big Vikings test

The Bengals offensive line has faced some tough pass-rushing linebackers in the AFC, but they are looking at the Vikings' defensive line as their biggest challenge yet.

They have done well against the AFC North and have faced a murderer's row of pass rushers — Denver's Elvis Dumervil, Pittsburgh's James Harrison and Baltimore's Terrell Suggs. But on Sunday the Cincinnati Bengals' offensive line faces its biggest test of the year.

The Vikings lead the league in sacks with 40 while the Bengals' offensive line is tied for eighth in sacks allowed with 22, but has allowed eight in the last three games. This is an offensive line that has helped running backs Cedric Benson, Bernard Scott and Larry Johnson tie a team record with seven 100-yard games.

With a win on Sunday or in any one of their remaining four games, the Bengals will clinch their second AFC North title in five seasons.

"Our guys are really excited by challenges," Bengals offensive line coach Paul Alexander said. "This is the best defensive line we're going to play in the toughest situation you can ask for. These guys are as good a defensive line I've seen in years. We'll find out exactly where we're at which can be good or bad."

The biggest matchup will be between Bengals left tackle Andrew Whitworth and Vikings defensive end Jared Allen, who is second in the league in sacks at 12.5. Center Kyle Cook signed with the Vikings as a college free agent before being released.

For Whitworth, this could be the fourth-year tackle's coming-out party, facing an All Pro the caliber of Allen.

"Whit is smart, very tough and he's a very coordinated athlete. He looks a little bit gawky, but that's far from the truth," Alexander said. "It's the kind of game if you're in my shoes with the guys that we have and where they've come and all this, this is going to be an exciting Sunday. I'm not nervous, I'm not afraid. I'm excited."


  • S Chris Crocker did not practice because of an ankle injury suffered Sunday against Detroit, but he is expected to play this week. Two times this year he has missed the first two days of practice and ended up playing.

  • S Kyries Hebert did not practice because of a knee injury suffered Sunday against Detroit, but he is expected to play this week.

  • CB Morgan Trent was limited in practice because of a nagging knee injury, but he is expected to play this week.

  • RB Bernard Scott, who is out of Sunday's game due to turf toe, says he thinks he will be back for next Sunday's game at San Diego.

  • TE Chase Coffman will have surgery next week to remove bone spurs from his left ankle after being placed on injured reserve on Wednesday.

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