CINCINNATI -- The health of the Cincinnati Bengals' secondary will end up being a dominant story line this week as Cincinnati tries to prepare for Cleveland's rejuvenated offensive attack when the teams meet at FirstEnergy Stadium on Sunday afternoon.
During their first full practice since beating Green Bay last weekend, the Bengals were without several key defensive backs Wednesday afternoon. Veterans Leon Hall, Terence Newman and Reggie Nelson joined Dre Kirkpatrick in either limited or non-practice capacity. On the heels of arguably the most physical and draining game of the season for the Bengals' defense, it shouldn't be too surprising that they, along with others, were out.
Said linebacker Vontaze Burfict, who did practice Wednesday after playing all 81 snaps last Sunday: "I was exhausted."
Still, just because the four didn't practice, that doesn't mean they won't be ready for kickoff. Coach Marvin Lewis was as optimistic as he has been all season when he provided an injury update during his Wednesday afternoon news conference.
"The sun came up a little bit," Lewis said, jokingly referencing the weather terms he sometimes uses to describe his players' health. "Everybody's doing a lot better than the initial Sunday-afternoon prognosis. We just have to go through the week and see how we do."
Among the good signs the Bengals do have on the injury front are those that concern cornerback Brandon Ghee. The Wake Forest product participated in the practice. It was his first since suffering a concussion in Cincinnati's preseason opener at Atlanta nearly two months ago.
"Definitely good to see him on the field to get some reps," defensive backs coach Mark Carrier said. "He hasn't played since August."
Here's the Bengals' full injury report:
Did Not Practice: CB Leon Hall (hamstring), CB Dre Kirkpatrick (hamstring), S Reggie Nelson (hamstring), G Mike Pollak (knee)
Limited Practice Participation: RB BenJarvus Green-Ellis (ankle), CB Terence Newman (knee)
Full Practice Participation: OT Anthony Collins (knee), CB Brandon Ghee (concussion)