Bengals focus on Bengals
Dillon's return takes back seat to team decisions
By Mark Curnutte
Enquirer staff writer
The return of Corey Dillon won't overshadow the internal importance of the Bengals' second preseason game tonight against Super Bowl champion New England.
Quarterback Carson Palmer will play until halftime for the Bengals.
Punters Kyle Larson and Eddie Johnson will battle for an edge in the absence of injured Kyle Richardson.
Several backup players will get a chance to make bids for roster spots while some starters sit out because of injuries.
"It's a good game for us to continue development," Bengals coach Marvin Lewis said.
Because Cincinnati's preseason opener at Tampa Bay was postponed and not played until Monday, the game tonight is the Bengals' second in five days.
Palmer is expected to get more than the 17 snaps he played in the 20-6 loss to the Buccaneers. He was 3-for-8 passing for 74 yards and one interception.
"He would have had more snaps than 17 if we didn't have any dropped balls and a fumble," Lewis said of Palmer. "But he played the length of time we set out for him to play, so now we're going to focus on the second week."
Wide receiver Peter Warrick, who continues to rehabilitate his right knee, will not play for the second consecutive week.
Wide receivers Patrick Johnson (leg) and Maurice Mann (leg) are expected to make their preseason debuts against New England, a 24-6 winner against Philadelphia in its preseason opener.
Lewis considers wide receiver one of the most competitive positions on the team for roster spots.
With regular starting tight end Reggie Kelly (thumb) out again, Tony Stewart is likely to get a second start. Matt Schobel (hamstring) should be able to make his first appearance of the preseason.
Guard Eric Steinbach (elbow) and running back Kenny Watson (hamstring) also are expected to play for the first time this year.
Performance on special teams again will be a deciding factor on who gets roster spots.
"It's the second week, (so) there is no question it is important," Lewis said. "We put a lot of emphasis on our guys and the competitive nature of playing for those special teams spots.
"The best way to do that is execute against an opponent. We can practice and practice it, but they need to show us they can do it against a well-coached special teams group. So this is great competition for our guys."
It was on a special teams play at Tampa Bay that starting cornerback Deltha O'Neal injured his thigh and ankle. Terrell Roberts could get the start for Cincinnati opposite Tory James.
Rookie defensive back Madieu Williams has worked exclusively at cornerback this week and should get a long look against the Patriots.
Williams is the player the Bengals selected with the draft pick (No. 56 overall) that they received from the Patriots in exchange for Dillon on April 19.
Dillon is underplaying his return to Cincinnati.
"It's another preseason game," Dillon told Patriots beat writers this week. "I'm not going to make a big deal out of it because it's really not a big deal. It's just another opponent, and I've got to go play ball."
Asked if the trip would stir any emotions, Dillon said: "Not at all. I'm serious when I say this. I'm not going to make a big deal out of it because it's really not a big deal. I'm a Patriot now.
"I'm with my new teammates, and we're jelling. I'm as happy as ever. I'm not even trying to look back."
Dillon will get some carries, but Patriots coach Bill Belichick wants to see improvement in his pass offense.
Even though starting quarterback Tom Brady and potential backup Rohan Davey were a combined 11-for-19 passing for 101 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions against the Eagles, Belichick was not happy.
"It wasn't any good," Belichick said. "The only passes we completed came on plays where we scrambled around or broke a tackle in the pocket to get the ball out to somebody, scrambled out of the pocket after the protection broke down or after the coverage broke down.
"That's football. But at some point during the year, you've got to drop back, block them, throw it and catch it. That's what the passing game is about. Not playing junior high, schoolyard football with everybody running in different directions."
Headlines for the game
-Dillon makes a return but probably wont get many carries
-Palmer is going to play the whole first half
-Warrick is out again (I really think Washington is going to be the #2 this whole year)
- Terrell Roberts appears to be starting for Deltha, but M. Williams should see a lot of time