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Bengals Bytes (9/1): More questions

The Bengals ended the preseason with more questions to answer about their roster. The Bengals’ kicking competition didn’t become any easier to decide after both struggled near the end of the game.

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NFL: Cincinnati Bengals at Indianapolis Colts Thomas J. Russo-USA TODAY Sports

Bengals Walkthru: Atkins speaks for first time in nearly two years
At last! The only time in my tenure at The Enquirer when Geno Atkins fielded questions from the media was following perhaps one of the most heartbreaking losses in franchise history, the AFC Wild Card game played at Paul Brown Stadium on Jan. 9, 2016. Prior to that, I would ask him every postgame and open locker room if he would talk to me. The answer was always no. Occasionally, I would write notes to Geno at halftime of some games, which became the popular #GenoNotes on Twitter.

Bengals end preseason with more questions to answer
If you were looking for an offensive duel between the Cincinnati Bengals and Colts, you must not watch much football. After a successful dress rehearsal in Week 3, the purpose of game number four is observation. Toss in a bit of caution, safety measures and crossed fingers and you have the whole drama played out. The Bengals were able to escape the Week 4 loss (7-6) relatively healthy but with new questions to ponder.

Cincinnati Bengals' 53-man roster projection includes seven wideouts
It looked like a longshot chance that the team could actually keep seven wide receivers, but the numbers have worked out. The team typically keeps six, and that would have made it difficult for Erickson and Core to both make the roster. Erickson changed that by having a standout camp, and he remains their best kick returner. Malone has looked better than Core during camp, but the Bengals have said repeatedly they like Core a lot.

Bengals to Donate to Hurricane Relief Efforts
To help support Hurricane Harvey victims and to aid in the relief efforts in Houston, the Bengals are announcing today three major initiatives undertaken by the Club. First, the Bengals will donate net proceeds of tickets sold to the Houston Texans game to the American Red Cross for tickets purchased today through September 9. The Bengals play the Texans on September 14 (8:25 p.m.) at Paul Brown Stadium in a Thursday Night Football matchup that airs locally on WLWT Channel 5. To kick off the donation effort, WLWT purchased 50 tickets to the game.

Bengals kicked in finale under injury cloud
With their first-round pick getting tests for his knee and their No. 3 quarterback wearing a splint on his throwing thumb, injuries overshadowed Thursday night’s 7-6 loss in the pre-season finale to the Colts and may impact Saturday’s final cuts. The game couldn’t even decide the Bengals’ kicking competition when both candidates missed three winners in the final 4:42. Rookie Jake Elliott had a chance to win it with 4:42 left when he made a 41-yarder, yet defensive tackle Ryan Glasgow was called for a false start and Elliott hooked left the ensuing 46-yarder. Then with 1:45 left veteran Randy Bullock missed his first attempt of seven pre-season field goal tries from 47 yards. Elliott came on to kick a 60-yarder with two seconds left and it barely missed to the left.

Bengaldom holds breath on Ross MRI; Driskel thumb feared broken
How ironic is that on the field of his greatest accomplishment Bengals rookie wide receiver John Ross may have suffered a devastating moment virtually before his pro career has even begun? Of course, he could also be fine after leaving Thursday night’s pre-season finale with a knee injury. But they won’t know for sure until he undergoes an MRI Friday morning.

Bengals at Colts Postgame Quotes
I think to play a preseason game like that – the fourth one – to have that at the end, couldn’t have scripted it better. Proud of how the guys fought their tails off and kept giving us an opportunity to win the football game. Disappointed we didn’t get it done, but we had obviously the opportunity to win the football game there at the end but we gotta make the kick. A lot of positives there. We’re hanging in there, playing, guys playing out of position. We’re a little thin there on offense, but they kept fighting their butt off and gave us an opportunity to win the game.

Kickers can't walk off with it
How eerie was the last 4:42 of Thursday night’s pre-season finale? Here Bengals special teams coordinator Darrin Simmons has conducted an exhaustive kicking competition between veteran Randy Bullock and fifth-rounder Jake Elliott. He has labored to make everything as even as possible. In spring OTAs, training camp practices, pre-season games. So as if Simmons scripted it for Saturday’s final cut, Bengals quarterback AJ McCarron, who played the guttiest last five minutes this side of Sinatra, drove for three winning field goals in the final 4:42.

AFC North Bytes

0-16! That's what NFL Nation reporters predict for Browns this season
It should be no surprise that writers covering the teams on the Browns' schedule see a "W" next to Cleveland on their respective schedules.

Haden free agency could prompt a memo from the league office The Browns released cornerback Joe Haden early Wednesday morning. Not long after 4:00 p.m. ET, he had an agreement in place with the Steelers. In the interim, plenty of teams were jostling to get a deal in place with Haden.

Inside the transformation of Pittsburgh Steelers' Martavis Bryant
PITTSBURGH -- Quitting marijuana gave Martavis Bryant a wave of new energy, which he poured into a Southern Nevada gymnasium for hours at a time while suspended for a year. The results -- the receiver ballooned to 233 pounds -- were shocking to the Pittsburgh Steelers, who had no idea Bryant would go full James Harrison on them.

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ESPN Football Analyst Walks Away, Disturbed by Brain Trauma on Field
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Drawing up 32 offensive plays each NFL team should run more in 2017
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