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Thursday, December 6, 2012
Wake-up call: Bengals trying out kickers

By Jamison Hensley

There's no games with AFC North teams playing each other Sunday, so it was a tough decision on which game to cover. But I can't miss the return of Ben Roethlisberger. That means I will be in Pittsburgh for the Steelers-Chargers game. As for today, let's start with your wake-up call ...

RAVENS: Ray Rice still won't complain about the lack of touches despite ranking 13th in the NFL with 198 carries this season. He didn't receive one carry in the fourth quarter of Sunday's loss to Pittsburgh. "Could we have run the ball on situations? Yes. But obviously when you sit back and look at it, we definitely could have executed a lot better," Rice said, via The Baltimore Sun. "If we would have executed a lot better, I'm sure I would have gotten the touches. That  wouldn't have been the question.  Going forward, we are going to do as I always say, work on our execution, and my touches will definitely come."

STEELERS: Sunday's game marks the first NFL start for cornerback Cortez Allen and the end of Ike Taylor's streak of 135 straight games played. "Replacing Ike or stepping in for him is a big shoe to fill," Allen told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. "I have a lot of respect for him and just what he brings to the field and outside the field he's my mentor, in a sense, as far as the game is concerned." Taylor is expected to miss the next two games with a hairline fracture to his right ankle.

BENGALS: The Bengals could be going with a new kicker Sunday. Mike Nugent didn't practice Wednesday because of a calf injury. It's serious enough that the Bengals brought in three kickers for a tryout, according to the Cincinnati Enquirer. Nugent has made only 82.6 percent of his field goals this season (19 of 23). This comes after he missed four field goals in his final three games last season (hitting 7 of 11), which included a playoff loss at Houston. The Bengals are trying out Josh Brown, Neil Rackers and Billy Cundiff, according to the Enquirer. Cundiff has already kicked for two AFC North teams in his career (Baltimore and Cleveland).

BROWNS: The Plain Dealer's Bud Shaw believes Browns fans should acknowledge "the rock" of the Chiefs organization when Kansas City plays at Cleveland on Sunday. Romeo Crennel, a former Browns coach, has displayed uncommon poise during a difficult time with the Jovan Belcher murder-suicide incident. "There's no cheering in the press box, or I'd be clapping out of respect and support for Romeo Crennel Sunday," Shaw wrote. "The former Browns' coach has thrown a warm arm around his football team at a time when he might need the biggest hug of all. He deserves that much from Cleveland fans when he leads his Chiefs out of the tunnel to face the Browns. More importantly, he could use it."