The Cincinnati Bengals announced Wednesday morning that Sunday’s home opener against Cleveland is a sellout, which means the game will air on Channel 12 in Cincinnati and Ch. 7 in Dayton.
“I think that’s a huge kickoff to our season at home,” Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis said. “To begin the season at home with a sold-out game is big. It’s a great reaction from our fans and the people here.”
From 2003 to 2010, the Bengals sold out 57 consecutive games at Paul Brown Stadium, but that streak came to an end Nov. 21, 2010 against Buffalo. The Bengals also failed to sell out the final three home games that season and six of the eight in 2011. Only the Pittsburgh game and the season finale against Baltimore, where two-for-one ticket deals were offered, sold out last year.
Lewis said the two most recent games his team has played, the wildcard game in Houston last year and the opener in Baltimore on Monday, showed the importance of a large, vocal crowd.
“The last two places we’ve played on the road, we know how effective crowds are and how impressive those last two venues are that way,” Lewis continued. “Our stadium should be just the same, and that’s what we’ve got to get going and get the tradition back and keep it this time, don’t let it filter away. That’s my job.”
Hawk eyed: Bengals wide receiver Andrew Hawkins had a breakout performance Monday night in Baltimore, leading all players with eight receptions and 86 receiving yards, both of which were career highs.
While Hawkins may be a relative unknown around the league, one team that is familiar with him is Sunday’s opponent, the Cleveland Browns.
After going undrafted out of Toledo in 2008, the 5-foot-7 Hawkins accepted an invitaiton to the Browns rookie camp that spring, but the team didn’t end up offering him a free-agent contract.
Despite that, Hawkins said there won’t be any added incentive this week.
“That was a long time ago, different coaches, different management,” he said. “I’m going into the game the same as always, just blessed to be here. I’ll go in there and play like it’s my last game.”
When asked if he expects any added attention from the Browns defense after what he did against the Ravens, Hawkins said, ‘Who knows. I’m a short receiver. Last year every time I would get in the game they would all yell, ‘Reverse screen’ anyways, so we’ll see.”
Injury update: Defensive end Carlos Dunlap and running back Bernard Scott practiced Wednesday, but head coach Marvin Lewis said their status for Sunday’s home opener against Cleveland remains “partly cloudy.”
Dunlap has been out since injuring his right knee in the first quarter of the first preseason game, while Scott hasn’t been full go since suffering a wrist injury early in training camp.
“They’ve made good progress, and they’re both champing at the bit to have an opportunity to play, so they’ll both return to practice this week and then we’ll go from there,” Lewis said.
Cornerback Jason Allen (quad) also returned to practice Wednesday. Tight end Donald Lee (thigh) sat out.
Flacco honored: Fresh off his performance against the Bengals on Monday, Baltimore quarterback Joe Flacco was named the AFC Offensive Player of the Week on Wednesday.
Flacco threw for 299 yards and two touchdowns to lead the Ravens to a 44-13 win.
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