Friday, November 15, 2013
Rey Maualuga progressing, Kevin Zeitler out
By Coley Harvey
CINCINNATI -- When the Cincinnati Bengals return from their bye next week, expect them to get back to some semblance of normalcy on the injury front.
Just after his team's final practice before hosting Cleveland this weekend, coach Marvin Lewis told reporters Friday that he believed his team would be at "full strength" when it headed out west for its Week 13 contest in two weeks.
"We're on the mend," he said.
Full strength, of course, doesn't mean the entire roster that started the season will be back. It just means the players who the Bengals have been waiting to get rehabbed from different ailments will have returned.
One of them, middle linebacker Rey Maualuga, took a turn in that direction Friday when he practiced for the first time since leaving the Bengals-Jets game four weeks ago with a knee injury and a concussion. He was held to limited work. The Bengals had been expecting Maualuga's MCL sprain to heal by Week 13. Since his injury, backup Vincent Rey has started, collecting 18 total tackles, three sacks and an interception in the past two games. Both sacks and the interception came in last week's 20-17 overtime loss at Baltimore.
Maualuga, who has been listed as Out for the past two weeks, was declared Doubtful on the injury report released Friday. Taking his place as an Out designation was offensive guard Kevin Zeitler, who suffered a foot injury last week. Zeitler hasn't practiced all week and has been hobbling around the locker room with a boot and crutches.
Along with being down Zeitler, the Bengals also will be without defensive tackle Devon Still, who has been recovering the past five weeks from a dislocated elbow. The Bengals have been expecting him to return by Week 13, too. The missed start will be Zeitler's first of his two-year career.
It appears he will be replaced by reserve guard Mike Pollak. The backup, who missed nearly all of the first half of the season with a knee injury, took Zeitler's reps during open practice periods this week. He has been impressing coaches since his return.
"He's done well," Lewis said. "He's not had obviously much opportunity in a game, but he's done well in practice and looked good. He's a smart guy, and this is why we have him here; to back up the interior, and he's got a chance to do that."
A six-year veteran, Pollak hasn't started a game since 2011.
"You sit there and as a veteran player, you're waiting for your chance and you understand why your chance doesn't come," Lewis said. "So you know the urgency of when your chance comes to make good on it."
Cincinnati likely won't have cornerback Chris Crocker on Sunday, either. The veteran hasn't practiced all week because of a hamstring injury and was declared Doubtful on the injury report.
Otherwise, the Bengals should be healthy for the Browns. Outside linebacker James Harrison, who didn't practice Friday after working out the first two days this week, was listed as Questionable with a calf injury. Another six players who spent time on the injury report this week were listed as Probable.
OG Kevin Zeitler (foot)
DT Devon Still (elbow)
DOUBTFUL CB Chris Crocker (hamstring)
LB Rey Maualuga (knee)