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Bengals Bytes (12/3): Looking to the future

A.J. Green wants to return this year, but not at the risk of making his injury worse. Antonio Brown isn’t worried about celebration penalties. Would full-time officials really improve officiating?

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NFL: Cleveland Browns at Cincinnati Bengals David Kohl-USA TODAY Sports

Return of Rudi, Rudi, Rudi

When Rudi Johnson and the rest of about 15 Bengals legends are introduced to the Paul Brown Stadium crowd before Sunday’s game (1 p.m.-Cincinnati’s Channel 19), the chant will no doubt start somewhere. “Rudi, Rudi, Rudi.”

Green eyes future, not history

A.J. Green says he won’t bail out on his team and if his injured hamstring allows the perennial Pro Bowl wide receiver plans to play this season no matter the record of a Bengals team that sits 3-7-1. “I’m not that kind of guy,” Green said Friday morning, surfacing for the media for the first time since the Nov. 20 injury. “I am not going to bail out on my team. When I’m ready to play I’ll play. If it’s the last game, I’ll play the game. It doesn’t matter. I’m going to play regardless.”

By The Numbers Game Preview: Week 13

The last time the Eagles played in Cincinnati, Eagles QB Donovan McNabb famously didn’t know the game was over after the OT period ended on Bengals kicker Shayne Graham’s 47-yard miss followed by McNabb’s incomplete deep pass in a 13-13 stalemate.

As Vontaze Burfict goes, so goes the Bengals' defense

Vontaze Burfict bristles at the notion, in his own way. He wonders why the question would be phrased in such a manner. You’re playing better the last few weeks… Or some start to that effect. A couple of reporters try to start an interview that way. Both times the Cincinnati Bengals linebacker isn’t quite feeling the sentiment.

Bengals vs. Eagles: Predictions, 3 keys

On one hand, this seems like it should be easy enough to do. It’s just one possession. And, the Bengals are allowing 20.0 points per game over their last five games – a number that would be 10th in the NFL – and allowing 18.7 over their last three. But for some reason, opposing teams have been able to carve up the Bengals defense on the first drive and score touchdowns to give their team an immediate advantage. If the Bengals can avoid that defensively, it may create the change at the end of the game the team needs.

Matchup of the game: Stopping Sproles

The numbers pop off the stat sheet for the Philadelphia Eagles. Darren Sproles ranks second on the team in rushing, averaging 4.9 yards per carry. He also ranks second on the team in receiving, with 9.0 yards per reception. Judging by as many touches as Sproles received this year, only nine other running backs in the last five years could claim the same numbers.

Cincinnati Bengals' Andy Dalton, Devon Still support charity with custom cleats

As part of the #MyCauseMyCleats social campaign, hundreds of players will don personalized cleats supporting charity foundations of their choice, including a number of Cincinnati Bengals (led by quarterback Andy Dalton). Devon Still, who famously put his career on hiatus while his young daughter battled (and eventually overcame) cancer, inspiring droves of support from opposing teams across the league, won't be playing Sunday. But his choice of cleats are no less noteworthy.

Bengals' Rex Burkhead trying to fill part of Giovani Bernard's role

It's a little quieter in the Cincinnati Bengals running backs meeting rooms these days. There's no doubt Giovani Bernard is missed, not only for his play on the field, but his humor, too.

AFC North Bytes

SportsTalk Live 3 Things to Watch: Ravens-Dolphins

Brian Mitchell and Rob Carlin give you the three things you need to watch in the Ravens-Dolphins game.

Cleveland Weatherman Says He Won't Shave His Beard Until the Browns Win

Cleveland weatherman Scott Sabol is wearing his dedication to the Browns right on his face. Sabol got a jump on "No-Shave November" by going on a shaving strike when the NFL season started back in September.

Antonio Brown Not Concerned About Celebration Penalties

I’m sure this is the topic you were dying to hear about. But it’s relevant, affecting the team, and Antonio Brown was asked about it today. After being flagged, and fined, for excessive celebration against the Indianapolis Colts, Brown was asked by reporters if he’s concerned about his actions. His response, per DVE’s Mike Prisuta.

Random Bytes

Rolando McClain Suspended for Drug Policy Violations

The Dallas Cowboys announced Friday that linebacker Rolando McClain has been suspended indefinitely without pay for violating the NFL's substance abuse policy, per David Helman of the team's official website. McClain has not appeared on the field this season, as he was suspended for the first 10 weeks due to a previous substance abuse violation.

COWBOYS-VIKINGS ON NBC, NFL NETWORK & TWITTER IS MOST-WATCHED “THURSDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL” GAME EVER

Down-to-the-Wire NFC Matchup Posts “Total Audience Delivery” Average of 22.2 Million Viewers across All Platforms TV-Only TNF Viewership of 21.8 Million Viewers on NBC & NFL Network Is Best-Ever For Thursday Night Football

Week 13 Cheat Sheet

Can the Lions continue their Cardiac Cat ways by playing a tight contest on the road vs. the surging Saints? Find out everything you need to know in that game, and more, in this week's Cheat Sheet.

Would hiring full-time refs help improve officiating?

A string of prime-time missed calls has initiated debate over whether the NFL needs to move toward adding full-time officials. On the same day officials missed a roughing penalty on a two-point conversion attempt late in the Vikings' loss to the Cowboys, Troy Vincent, the league's vice president of football operations, told The Associated Press that he expects the league to hire as many as 17 full-time officials this offseason.