Chris Henry, a valuable part of the Bengals offense in the second and third games, with two touchdowns and several big catches, was healthy Sunday but was deactivate for the New England game.
Less than 24 hours after he declined to address his decision to sit Henry, Bengals coach Marvin Lewis said the wide receiver sat as much for on-field reasons as any off-field matter.
Henry was a passenger in the vehicle driven September 25 by Odell Thurman when the Bengals linebacker was cited for DUI. Witnesses said Henry was vomiting out the window.
Asked toward the end of his Monday news conference if he noticed any difference Sunday without Henry on the field, Lewis was pointedly critical of the second-year wide receiver, just as he was of Thurman when the league suspended him for a year.
"I did notice a difference, actually," Lewis said. "I didn't have anybody taunting, in anybody's face or anything like that. That's where I noticed the difference: Guys doing it the way they're asked to do it. I didn't have to worry about the guy taking off his helmet on the field and things like that."
Lewis, a member of the NFL's prestigious Competition Committee, which suggests rules changes to ownership, tied his opinion of taunting to the incident Sunday in Nashville when Tennessee defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth stomped the unprotected face of Dallas center Andre Gurode.
"It's the respect to the league and what the rules are on the field, and that I didn't have to worry about yesterday," Lewis said. "And those are things we've got to continually get straight all the time, because I've got to know who I can count on and when I can count on them."
Lewis appeared to be foreshadowing a future possibly without Henry.
Antonio Chatman made his Bengals debut Sunday after missing several weeks with a groin injury. And second-year wide receiver Tab Perry, though not ready to come back from a hip injury for the October 15 game at Tampa Bay, should be back by the end of October.
"Down the line, we could have some tough decisions on who's going to get suited up on this team," Lewis said.
Thurman was the Bengals' second-round pick in 2005 and Henry their third that same year.
--Marvin Lewis, initially reluctant to discuss the hit by safety Kevin Kaesviharn that drew a penalty, said the strong safety "turned his shoulder" before the hit against New England receiver Reche Caldwell.
"His helmet never touched the other player, and I don't think the other player's helmet ever got hit," Lewis said of the play, which drew a 15-yard penalty for helmet-to-helmet hit. "To me it looked like it was a shoulder to shoulder collision."
--After Tampa Bay, the Bengals will come home to battle Carolina and Atlanta. All three teams are from the tough NFC South and all three teams like to run the ball.
"Very physical football much like we're used to in our division," Lewis said.
--The Bengals have gained 87 and 71 yards on the ground the past two games -- after opening with 116- and 160-yard game.
"I thought we were inconsistent," Lewis said of the run offense against the Patriots. "We did a lot of things where we attacked downhill and got after them, and I thought other times we sat there and looked like we were going to the prom."
Lewis was asked if his team was over-confident for the New England game.
To which, he said, "No, this is NFL football. That's emotions. We're not in love. We're playing football."
--LB Rashad Jeanty (foot) is expected to return in time to play at Tampa Bay on Oct. 15. The Bengals are off this week. Jeanty missed the New England game. He would help the run defense at strong-side linebacker.
--S Dexter Jackson (ankle), who has missed the last two games, could be back to play against his former team, Tampa Bay, on Oct. 15. It would help the run defense.
--WR Antonio Chatman (groin) made his Bengals debut after missing the first three games. He ran some pass routes, though he did not have a reception, and returned one punt seven yards.
--DE Robert Geathers suffered a sprained knee against New England. His knee was wrapped as he walked to the trainer's room Monday afternoon. He said he expected to be ready for Tampa Bay on Oct. 15.
--CB Greg Brooks suffered a sprained knee against the Patriots, Lewis said.