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The Debrief: Bengals feeling good heading to Atlanta

The Cincinnati Bengals are looking healthier this weekend than last week. We look at injury and status reports, reading material, and previews heading into Week 4.

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Atlanta Falcons v Cincinnati Bengals Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images

Thank you for reading The Debrief. We’ve run the series for about a week — every day this week and a few days last week. Due to my hectic personal life, I can’t guarantee a daily posting, but will do my best. Some stories will be comprehensive; others will be quick and to the point. Email me your thoughts on The Debrief — should we continue, what works best, what should we change? Or if you want, just tell me how awesome I am.

1) On second thought, Dre Kirkpatrick is OK.

Cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick has been a rollercoaster this week. Kirkpatrick was limited with a groin on Wednesday and was given a “did not practice” designation Thursday with a groin/back (NOTE: This does not mean there’s a groin on his back; only that two injuries are being reported). This led many, including the Cincinnati Enquirer, to conclude that Kirkpatrick would likely miss Sunday’s game. FOOLED YOU. Kirkpatrick was a full participant on Friday and wasn’t given a status of out, doubtful, or questionable. That makes for a safe conclusion that he is playing Sunday.

2) A.J. Green is also playing Sunday.

Wide receiver A.J. Green is expected to play Sunday in Atlanta. Green, who exited Sunday’s game after landing on his hip against Carolina, had been dealing with a bruise/groin/pelvis throughout the week. He was a full participant on Thursday and Friday, and like Kirkpatrick, wasn’t given a status of out, doubtful, or questionable.

3) In fact, Joe Mixon and Billy Price are the only player’s listed on the status report.

Based on the team’s release, Michael Johnson, injured against Baltimore, and Preston Brown, out since opening weekend, are expected to return Sunday. Neither were listed with a status on Friday.

Bengals Week 4 Practice/Injury Report

C Billy Price Foot DNP DNP DNP OUT
CB Dre Kirkpatrick Groin LP DNP FP
HB Giovani Bernard Thigh LP LP FP
OT Cordy Glenn Knee LP LP FP
LB Preston Brown Ankle LP FP FP
CB Darqueze Dennard Calf LP FP FP
WR A.J. Green Pelvis LP FP FP
DE Michael Johnson Knee LP FP FP
TE Tyler Eifert Back FP FP FP
TE Tyler Kroft Finger -- FP FP

4) Bengals waive Tra Carson.

Cincinnati announced Friday that running back Tra Carson was placed on waivers with an injury settlement. This effectively removes Carson off Injured Reserve, allowing him to sign with anyone — and return to Cincinnati in some capacity in a few weeks (aka, practice squad or replace Thomas Rawls, if the latter isn’t working out) if that’s what both parties want.

5) The Falcons are way more injured; won’t have running back Devonta Freeman.

Despite being limited on Thursday and Friday, Falcons running back Devonta Freeman has been declared out. Running backs Tevin Coleman and Ito Smithheld down the running back spot” last week with Freeman, who has been out since kickoff weekend, on the shelf. Coleman has been the bell-cow this season with 159 yards rushing on 40 carries.

6) More on Falcons injuries.

Atlanta won’t have “special teams ace” Justin Bethal or defensive end Derrick Shelby. That’s in addition to losing three defensive starters from safety Ricardo Allen (starter since 2015), linebacker Deion Jones (starter since 2016 and 2017 Pro Bowler), to safety Keanu Neal (starter since 2016 and 2017 Pro Bowler).

To have with your chamomile tea (for your reading pleasure):

  • The Falcoholic’s site manager Dave Choate is one of SB Nation’s original site managers, along with yours truly. We created our respective sites in 2006; we were so much younger during the golden era of blogging. Needless to say, Dave knows his Falcons — probably more than I know about the Bengals. Patrick Judis chatted with Dave in this week’s Behind Enemy Lines. Patrick offered his Bengals insights with The Falcoholic here.
  • Legendary wide receiver Chad Johnson, who got tickets to Sunday’s game from Mohamed Sanu, will visit the Bengals locker room. He’s hoping to chat with second-year receiver John Ross. “He’s got to focus on his craft. If he does that, the rest takes care of itself,” Chad said via the mothership.
  • We discuss how the Bengals need to stabilize an inconsistent narrative if they’re going to make a long-term impact.
  • Jeanna Thomas joined The Orange and Black Insider to preview Sunday’s titanic struggle between the Bengals and Falcons.
  • And we breakdown the key matchups between the Bengals and Falcons.

The last time Giovani Bernard played Atlanta, he generated a career-high 169 yards from scrimmage with 90 on the ground. Bernard figures to start Sunday against the Falcons with Joe Mixon, who said Thursday that he feels great but has yet to be cleared, continuing rehabilitation on his knee.

Cincinnati’s 24-10 over Atlanta in 2014 was a combination of a fearsome running game (164 yards between Bernard and Jeremy Hill) and an explosive 14-point third quarter — including a 76-yard toss to Mohamed Sanu. Sanu, who signed a deal worth $32.5 million, is already on the third year of his five-year contract with Atlanta. Seems like a lifetime ago when he suited for the Bengals, doesn’t it?

“A lot,” said quarterback Andy Dalton when asked if he has kept in touch with Sanu. “We have talked quite a bit. Over the years we have kept in contact. We had a great friendship here, and I think we will always have a great friendship.”

Paired with one of the league’s top receivers in Julio Jones, Sanu has enjoyed relative success, averaging 63 receptions, 678 yards receiving and nine total touchdowns in two seasons. Not only has he generated success individually, he’s also won three playoff games an caught two passes in the Super Bowl.

However, before all that, Sanu was part of group that included Marvin Jones, who signed his own long-term deal in Detroit, and Green at receiver. In addition to tight end Tyler Eifert, Cincinnati also employed Rex Burkhead, who has made a name for himself in New England as a multi-dimensional player for the Patriots offense. (Burkhead was placed on IR with a torn ACL this week; he joins former Bengals running back Jeremy Hill on the Patriots’ IR list with the same injury.)

“It was a talented group,” said Dalton. “We were kind of coming into it at the same time. That last year together was special. It felt like it was the best year we had together. It’s cool to have that group and still be friends today.”

Stat of the Day:

From the Cincinnati Enquirer, who wrote about where Carlos Dunlap has been lining up.

The ninth-year veteran who customarily fires off from the left side of the Bengals defensive line has lined up 41 times on the right side through the first three games. That’s already more than all of last season and five of the previous seven... Dunlap still lines up predominately on the left side (132 of his 173 total plays started there).

Quote of the Day:

“I mean, (4.22) seconds? Who does that? Can you imagine? He can just fly,” Johnson said. “He’s got to be a dog. The guy I think about is Steve Smith. Steve Smith didn’t care about anything but just going out and being a dog. That’s all he needs. He’s got to be thinking, ‘When I get the ball, I’m gone. I’m out of here.’ Every time he touches it, he’s got to be thinking ‘House Call.’”
- Chad Johnson on John Ross.