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Bengals Bytes (12/29): Missing the mark

A.J. Green will miss an important milestone after being ruled out of the season finale. Steve Smith Sr. is 89% sure this will be his last game, but if he retires he will go out as one of the greatest trash talkers in the history of the game. Aarong Rodgers called this run from the Packers, but where does his guarantee fall in compared to other famous guarantees?

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NFL: Pittsburgh Steelers at Cincinnati Bengals Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

Lewis, Dalton News Conference Transcript 12/28

With Baltimore, since we played them a few weeks ago, they’ve won two and lost two, and obviously they lost a heartbreaking game at the end last week. Offensively, they’ve picked up and improved a little bit in their yards per carry, and also a little bit in what they’re doing in the passing game. Since we’ve played them, I think they have 10 touchdowns and five interceptions in the passing game. Pitta (TE Dennis Pitta) has probably been the leader, with 25 catches in those games. And then Steve Smith is probably second. Their production seems to have picked up.

Notes: McCarron patiently waiting; Lewis retires question

If you remember last year at this time, we were immersed in AJ McCarron. All the way from the Alabama legend to his model wife to the unborn Tripp to just how close he came to joining Ken Anderson and Boomer Esiasion as the Bengals quarterbacks who have won play-off games. Now a year after subbing for the injured Andy Dalton last season, he anonymously slips in and out of meetings with fellow backup quarterback Jeff Driskel, his last pass still the electric 25-yard touchdown to A.J. Green that put the Bengals ahead with 1:50 left back on Jan. 9.

Marvin Lewis calls retirement speculation 'unfortunate'

Despite telling The Enquirer in early December that he was going to come back to coach the Cincinnati Bengals in 2017 if asked, rumors about Marvin Lewis retiring after this season cropped up again the past week thanks to a radio show hosted by former Washington tight end Chris Cooley, who is based in Washington D.C. On Wednesday at Paul Brown Stadium, Lewis was asked directly if he was retiring after the season but instead addressed Cooley's statement.

A.J. Green of Cincinnati Bengals out, won't get to 1,000 yards for 1st time

Bengals wide receiver A.J. Green will not play against the Baltimore Ravens on Sunday, ensuring that he will not reach 1,000 receiving yards for the first time in his six NFL seasons. Bengals coach Marvin Lewis also said Wednesday that linebacker Vontaze Burfict, who missed last week's game, remains in the concussion protocol.

Could Bengals CB Dre Kirkpatrick leave in free agency?

Cincinnati Bengals cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick didn't want to consider the possibility that Sunday might be his last game in a Bengals uniform. But as he finishes out the regular season on his fifth-year option, he knows that it could happen.

AFC North Bytes

Le’Veon Bell wants to stay with the Steelers next season

Maybe he feels like he owes them for the three games he missed because of a drug suspension, or maybe he just loves the friendly local drivers. Whatever the reason, Le’Veon Bell doesn’t want to leave Pittsburgh.

Browns leaning to continuing the Robert Griffin experiment another year

Is a single win with no touchdown passes in four starts enough for the Browns to bring back Robert Griffin as their uncontested starting quarterback in 2017? Amazingly, astonishingly, it is sounding like that answer may be yes. Griffin’s status for Sunday’s season finale in Pittsburgh is in doubt because of a concussion he suffered in the losing streak-busting victory over the San Diego Chargers.

Steve Smith Sr. to Retire as the Best Trash-Talker Ever

Looking for the best NFL coverage around? Bleacher Report is the go-to destination for armchair quarterbacks everywhere. B/R's NFL coverage delivers must-see gridiron analysis on a daily basis. You've never been so ready for some football.

Random Bytes

Doug Martin suspended four games, entering rehab

Doug Martin has been suspended four games for violating the NFL's drug policy. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers' running back announced the suspension in a statement on Wednesday. Martin said he plans to enter a treatment facility. NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported that Martin is being suspended for violating the league's performance-enhancing drugs policy. Per Rapoport, the violation is for Adderall, which is one of the issues the running back is battling.

Carson Wentz at Christmas: Shotguns for everybody!

'Tis the season for offensive linemen to receive gifts from the stars. We've seen bigs receive plane tickets, gaming systems, coolers and UTVs. Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz went down a road we don't remember seeing before, gifting each of his big men up front a Beretta shotgun for Christmas. Wentz, as you could probably guess, is an avid hunter. You may recall the story that he was on his back in a field duck hunting when he got the news that the Eagles had traded Sam Bradford to the Vikings.

Aaron Rodgers and his run-the-table 'guarantee' could join NFL lore

We in the media have perfected an unflattering routine of asking newsmakers for predictions and, when offered, inflating them into guarantees. There is a phonic difference between "I think we'll win" and "we will win" that sometimes gets lost in the excitement. Aaron Rodgers' "I think we can run the table" contention in Week 11 falls somewhere in between.

Drew Brees 'absolutely' expects Sean Payton to stay with Saints

The Sean Payton rumors have been more of a whisper this year than a constant drumbeat like last season, when the New Orleans Saints had to deal with weekly reports of Payton possibly leaving to coach another team. But Saints quarterback Drew Brees insisted Wednesday that he feels the same way he did a year ago -- he "absolutely" thinks Payton will stay.