Bengals Banter: Marvin Lewis tells his players, "I got you this week."

This isn't the same as Cedric Benson's epic final laugh. Several weeks ago when the Bengals offense played Madden against the Chicago Bears, Cedric Benson rushed for nearly 190 yards. This was an epic last laugh for Benson. Former Chiefs running back and current Bengals running back Larry Johnson isn't making a big deal out of playing Kansas City this weekend. He's just happy to be on a team competing for the playoffs -- even though he didn't know that Cincinnati was competing for the playoffs before he signed.

"It's just another chance to become AFC (North) division champions," he said. "That's most important. I haven't got to wear those caps and T-shirts (of a division winner) since, I think, my rookie year. It would be fun to do it at home, in front of the fans. Hopefully we can celebrate a win."

"What's going on with this team is bigger than me versus the Kansas City Chiefs," he said. "It's basically us trying to put ourselves in a great position to get to the playoffs and hopefully get to the Super Bowl."

In today's Six-Pack of Hu-Dey, we suggest that the Bengals should allow Johnson an opportunity to get additional snaps this weekend.

The Cincinnati Bengals lost their assistant offensive line coach. Well, not lost. It's not like he's a set of car keys. Bob Surace was hired by Princeton University to head up their program. Surace isn't leaving until after the season. And thus the Marvin Lewis coaching tree is born.

Football Outsiders puts Michael Johnson, Rey Maualuga and Kevin Huber on their All-Rookie Team. (h/t C Trent)

Defensive End: Michael Johnson, Bengals. Johnson has just two sacks and very few tackles, but he has four passes defensed. The 6-foot-7 Johnson extends to bat down passes, and he's been a solid contributor in the Bengals nickel package.

Linebacker: Rey Maualuga, Bengals. With 58 tackles, one sack, and three forced fumbles, you know Maualuga can play. We also learned two weeks ago that he can sing. Maualuga and the other Bengals linebackers recorded their own version of "Santa Claus is Comin' to Town," with Abdul Hodge (whose vocal range is somewhere between Matt Hasselbeck and Geddy Lee) singing the high parts. Guess whose idea it was? Hint: bow tie, television show, questionable talent.

Punter: Kevin Huber, Bengals. The Special Teams Player of the Year. Huber booted 20 punts inside the 20-yard line, but his best game came in the November rematch against the Browns. Josh Cribbs returned six punts for 120 yards against the Bengals in Week 4, but Huber kicked three balls out of bounds and forced a fair catch and a downed punt: 38.7 net yards, no Cribbs heroics. Thomas Morstead of the Saints earns honorable mention and makes the team as a kickoff specialist.

James Walker rates the rookies on all four AFC North teams. For the Bengals, the best rookie is Rey Maualuga, the biggest surprise is Bernard Scott, jury is still out on Andre Smith and Bust Alert goes to Chase Coffman.

Even though Chris Henry was laid to rest, police are continuing the investigation into whether or not charges will be filed.

When Marvin Lewis told his players on Monday, "I got you this week," it resonated with the team.

The message struck a chord with other players. Essentially, Lewis was telling them he recognizes the strain they've faced and he will adjust the practice schedule accordingly; those players who need a break will get it.

Players are feeling the pressure to get their playoff berth wrapped up.

“The last three weeks we have had a chance to do it and now we’re running out of times and games,” safety Chris Crocker said. “Every game is a must win but we’re starting to run out of time.”

Bernard Scott says that his turf toe still hurts, "but it doesn't affect cutting or straight ahead speed."

There's still a possibility that Domata Peko, who did not participate in practice Wednesday, could play on Sunday.

Bengals and Bearcats football isn't as upbeat in the city as it was.

I got a Tweet recently from a group that will be doing a Tailgate Tribute to Chris Henry this weekend.

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