1. Who will run the ball? Perhaps the most intriguing question entering Thursday's game revolves around the backfield, a position group that entered Bengals training camp expected to have one of the more hotly contested battles. In the last week or so, those battles haven't been quite as interesting, though, as injuries have filled the running back group. BenJarvus Green-Ellis has been believed to be the odd man out, but he might end up sticking with the team depending upon how serious injuries to Rex Burkhead and Cedric Peerman are. If the injuries are bad enough, they could be sent to an injury list this weekend, opening a spot for Green-Ellis to stick. He actually hasn't had the best health in recent days, either, as an illness held him out all of last week's practices. He also missed Tuesday's workout this week for an undisclosed reason. So with Burkhead, Peerman and Green-Ellis -- players who had been competing for the final running back spots -- out of the mix, who gets carries Thursday? Don't expect starter Giovani Bernard to do much. Rookie Jeremy Hill probably isn't going to be on the field for more than 30 snaps, himself. That means potential practice squad back, rookie James Wilder Jr., could get more extended action.
2. Will starters get rest? It seems likely that Bengals' starters won't play much beyond the first series or two of the game. It also seems reasonable that some may not even see a down of action. The goal of the fourth preseason game is always simple: stay healthy. Cincinnati is focused on hitting that goal this year after losing linebacker Emmanuel Lamur for the season in last year's preseason finale at Indianapolis. For that reason, don't be surprised if he's among those who see an extremely early exit Thursday. Also don't be surprised if Jason Campbell enters the game in the first quarter to relieve starting quarterback Andy Dalton.
3. Special teams improvements? Cincinnati's weakest area this preseason has been special teams. Poor tackling and coverage-unit breakdowns have led to the Bengals allowing big kick and punt returns. Penalties also have negated the Bengals' own gains, forcing them into consistently having bad field position. Last Sunday at Arizona, the Bengals began seven of their 10 drives inside the 20 largely because of lacking special-teams production. Special teams coordinator Darrin Simmons has vowed for better play, and he's seen it as the preseason has progressed, too. There is a thought around the team that some of the penalties that were called may not get upheld during the season. A few of the borderline calls may have been part of preseason overemphasis. Watch to see if the Bengals' special teams can play cleaner Thursday.