Cincinnati Bengals starting cornerback Terence Newman was walking around the locker room on crutches while wearing a knee brace Monday afternoon, and all indications are that he will miss Sunday’s game in Pittsburgh.
“He’s a little sore,” is all Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis would allow during his Monday press conference.
The left knee injury appeared to occur when safety Chris Crocker collided with Newman while they were trying to cover Indianapolis wide receiver LaVon Brazill on a 29-yard touchdown reception with 9:48 left in the game.
Newman was back on the field for the first two snaps of the next defensive series, but Brandon Ghee replaced him on third down and Newman never returned after that.
“It’s been a crazy season with injuries, but things happen,” cornerback Adam Jones said. “It’s going to give (Dre Kirkpatrick) a chance to step up. He’s been waiting for this opportunity, so I hope he can make the most of it and just run with it.”
Kirkpatrick, who was in for a number snaps even before Newman went down, has seen his playing time gradually increase the second half of the season. He played 42 percent of the defensive snaps Sunday against the Colts, after playing 36 percent against Cleveland on Nov. 17 and 22 percent at Baltimore on Nov. 10.
“It’s been good for him confidence-wise and good for us, too,” Jones said. “But when you’re starting, you’ve got to do a lot more studying. It’s not like you’re just playing a couple of more plays. It’s different when you’re out there the whole game. I’ll be on him. We can’t let down in the back end. We’re playing too good right now to have any lagging in the back end. I’m quite sure the coaches are going to make sure he’s ready. I’m eager for the challenge for Kirk. I think he’s ready.”
“If (Newman) does miss any time, I think we’ve got a guy chomping at the bit to play more in Dre Kirkpatrick,” he said. “Terence and Leon (Hall) and Adam have been able to hold Dre at bay. It’s been hard, but they’ve had a big stiff-arm on him and trying to keep their jobs from him. And frankly, they’ve been great mentors for him. So yeah, he’ll get obviously an opportunity to expand his role.”
Lewis said starting safety George Iloka, who suffered a head injury during the game and did not return, is undergoing the league’s concussion protocol, which means his status for Sunday will not be known until later in the week.
Replay review: After taking a more diplomatic approach after the game Sunday, Cincinnati Bengals running back BenJarvus Green-Ellis admitted Monday that referee Jeff Triplette made a mistake in overturning a second-quarter play and awarding the Bengals a touchdown.
“Wasn’t (Triplette) the same guy who had the call earlier with down and distance in the Redskins game (six days earlier)?” Green-Ellis asked reporters. “I guess it’s just not a good week for those guys.”
Despite replays showing Green-Ellis being tripped up by Colts nose guard Josh Chapman, causing him to fall short of the goal line, Triplette ruled that Green-Ellis wasn’t touched and reversed the call.
“I’m just happy that we get one in our favor,” Green-Ellis added. “Man, we’ve had so many calls go against us in the opposite direction. So I’m happy to get one and that we got away with that one like that.
Replay rankings: Speaking of instant replay, it has been extremely beneficial to the Bengals this season.
Marvin Lewis is a perfect 6 for 6 in replay challenges this season, making him one of only five head coaches who has yet to lose one, along with Indianapolis’ Chuck Pagano (5 for 5), Atlanta’s Mike Smith (3 for 3), Minnesota’s Leslie Frazier (1 for 1) and New Orleans’ Sean Payton (1 for 1).
Sunday’s replay reversal that awarded BenJarvus Green-Ellis a touchdown is not included because that came in the final two minutes of the first half, meaning it was booth initiated.
Lewis is tied with Baltimore’s John Harbaugh (6 for 10) and Miami’s Joe Philbin (6 for 7) for the second most successful challenges behind Seattle’s Pete Carroll (8 for 11).
NFL coaches are a combined 94 of 246 this season for a 38.2-percent success rate.