Whitworth, Gresham make preseason debuts for Bengals

Cincinnati Bengals left tackle Andrew Whitworth and tight end Jermaine Gresham returned from injuries to make their 2014 preseason debuts Saturday night against the New York Jets at Paul Brown Stadium.

Whitworth suffered a calf strain the night before training camp began July 23 and did not participate in 11-on-11 on drills until Monday. Gresham (back) also returned to practice earlier in the week, and both players were in the starting lineup against the Jets.

Whitworth played one quarter, while Gresham played into the second quarter as the Bengals took a 17-16 lead into halftime.

“I’m excited to be out there and getting a chance to hit people,” Whitworth said earlier in the week. As many games as I’ve played and as much as I’ve done, it’s not a huge factor because you don’t usually see the best of anybody. For me, it’s going to be more of a continuity thing. I want to get in there with the guys that we have, and with Russell (Bodine) and some of the young guys and be able to see that we’re all on the same page.”

Gresham, who also sat out most of the spring OTAs and minicamp, shook off his rust with two catches for 13 yards.

Among the Bengals who did not play in the first half and were not expected to see action were quarterback Jason Campbell (elbow), cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick (hip), linebacker Sean Porter (knee), right tackle Andre Smith (concussion protocol), wide receivver Marvin Jones (foot), tight end Tyler Eifert (shoulder), defensive end Dontay Moch (undisclosed) and defensive tackle Geno Atkins (knee).

Special needs: One week after getting lit up by the Kansas City Chiefs, the Bengals’ special teams units looked much improved.

The Bengals gave up an 80-yard punt return for a touchdown and a 65-yard kick return to set up another score against the Chiefs. But the Jets had one punt return for 2 yards and two kick returns for an average of 26.5 yards in the first half.

One blemish was rookie seventh-round pick James Wright drawing another penalty on a kick return. His holding call at Kansas City wiped out a 52-yard return by Dane Sanzenbacher, and Saturday night Wright had a block in the back nullify a 23-yard Sanzenbacher return, forcing the Bengals to start at their own 13.

Also of note was the fact that the Bengals used Adam Jones to return the first punt while Sanzenbacher returned the first kickoff and second punt even though Brandon Tate is listed as the starter at both spots and handled the duties last week at Kansas City.

Birthday boy: Newly signed quarterback Tyler Wilson was expected to make his Bengals debut on his 25th birthday Saturday night.

Wilson signed with the Bengals on Aug. 9 after being waived by Tennessee on Aug. 6. He was a fourth-round pick of the Oakland Raiders in 2013.

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