In about 24 hours from now, the Bengals will be getting set for their final practice ahead of a Week 4 showdown in Cleveland against the Browns.
When the Bengals take to FirstEnergy Stadium for their 80th all-time meeting against the divisional and in-state rival Browns, don't expect to see one of their starting safeties tweak or alter his game from the one before. Second-year player George Iloka, the Bengal who was slapped earlier this week with a $15,000 fine for making contact with the head of a "defenseless" Green Bay tight end, Jermichael Finley, was adamant in letting anyone who asked know that he wasn't planning on going soft in wake of the punishment.
"You've just got to eat that fine," Iloka said to reporters Wednesday. "I'd rather take whatever the fine is than let a guy make a big catch on third-and-whatever."
So look for the same old Iloka on Sunday.
Don't look for the same old Morning Stripes on this Thursday morning, though. Here's a new batch below:
Staying on Iloka for a moment longer, defensive backs coach Mark Carrier spoke with a few reporters briefly after Wednesday's practice and discussed a variety of items, including Iloka's hit. As Bengals.com's Geoff Hobson writes, Carrier believes Iloka did everything he could to prevent the big hit from occurring. So, he's giving him permission to play the exact same way. As bad as the hit may have been -- Finley suffered a concussion and still hasn't been cleared to play -- Iloka did everything right in the eyes of Carrier, a former defensive back who estimated he drew $100,000 in fines during his career.
One player Iloka may not have many opportunities to hit is Browns quarterback Brian Hoyer. Cleveland coach Rob Chudzinski announced Wednesday that Hoyer will earn his second straight start after helping lead the team to its first win of the season last weekend. A Cleveland native who attended many Browns games as a kid, Hoyer is certain to have nerves, goosebumps and a generally excited vibe Sunday when he makes his first career start in front of his hometown crowd. Check out the way the AP wrote about the experience he's anticipating.
As Cincinnati Enquirer reporter Joe Reedy points out, in what appears to be turning into an annual, late-September rite of passage, the Bengals this week brought back safety Chris Crocker. It is the second straight year they re-signed the Browns draftee ahead of a Week 4 contest. Exactly 363 days after he was brought off his couch the last time, Crocker arrived in Cincinnati on Wednesday, once again fresh from home.
Each week in the NFL, games are won and lost on matchups. This week, one of the big matchups to take notice of is the one that will happen outside the hashes between Bengals receiver A.J. Green and Browns cornerback Joe Haden, writes FoxSports Ohio's Kevin Goheen. The pair has been lined opposite one another ever since college when they played in the SEC at Georgia (for Green) and Florida (for Haden). Because they know each other so well, expect a good battle.