CINCINNATI -- For a few minutes Friday morning, injured Cincinnati Bengals offensive tackle Andrew Whitworth gave a glimmer of hope that he might actually start Sunday when Cincinnati opens the regular season on the road against the Chicago Bears.
For the first time all week, he grabbed his white practice jersey, slipped it over his head, adjusted the gloves he had just placed on both hands, and grabbed his orange and black-striped helmet. Off to practice, fully dressed, he was about to go.
Apparently, it was all a ruse. Either that, or Whitworth had a cruel joke played on him.
At some point between walking out of Paul Brown Stadium's home locker room for practice and onto the synthetic surface the Bengals play on something changed. He wasn't ready after all.
When reporters came out for the open first half hour of practice, they were surprised to see the once uniformed Whitworth wearing a black Bengals T-shirt and walking around helmetless instead. Just moments before, as he followed teammates into the stadium, he looked like he was finally going to get out and give his surgically repaired knee a test run. The eight-year veteran missed all of the preseason as he rehabbed the knee.
After the walk-through, Bengals coach Marvin Lewis wouldn't confirm whether Whitworth would be listed as "Doubtful" for the game. Instead, pushed by a reporter to do so, Lewis put his patented weather prognosis on Whitworth's likelihood of playing.
"Mostly cloudy," Lewis said.
This week, Whitworth told reporters that he was still hopeful, but he was beginning to think he would be "Doubtful" by Sunday.
Otherwise, the Bengals expect to enter the opener relatively healthy.
"Yeah, to be beginning, we're in pretty good shape," Lewis said. "We just have to go play football."