The Cincinnati Bengals have yet to officially announce the four-year, $20 million contract extension for Pro Bowl linebacker Vontaze Burfict that was first reported by ESPN on Wednesday.
Burfict, who has missed practice the last three days with what is described as a “stomach bug,” has declined interview requests since the news broke. Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis addressed the situation after practice Friday but offered little insight.
“Until the club and the player have signed off it’s not signed off,” Lewis said. “”I would guess we expect him to sign. Obviously the agent believes he has a deal. We didn’t release it.”
With the team flying to Arizona today for Sunday night’s nationally televised game against the Cardinals, it’s unlikely anything official will be announced this weekend.
While unable to comment on the contract, Lewis did talk about Burfict’s development from an undrafted college free agent to a Pro Bowler who led the NFL in tackles last year.
“I thought he could develop if he did what we asked him to do,” Lewis said. “And the very first practice we ever had with him, I knew he was pretty special. He’s done nothing but get better since that day. It’s been great.”
Marquee matchup: Sunday’s game in Arizona will pit the No. 4 overall pick in the 2011 draft, Bengals wide receiver A.J. Green, against the No. 5 overall pick that year, Arizona cornerback Patrick Peterson.
Both have been to the Pro Bowl every year in the league.
“Speed and ball skills,” Green said when asked what makes Peterson so good. “He’s a big corner, and he can run.”
The two have met once since coming the NFL, when Green and the Bengals beat Peterson and the Cardinals 23-16 on Christmas Eve their rookie year. Peterson had an injured ankle and mostly just returned punts in the game, while Green caught two passes for 25 yards.
They went head-to-head twice in college, with Green’s Georgia team winning once and Peterson’s LSU club winning once. Green had three catches for 89 yards and a touchdown his freshman year in a 52-38 win, and five catches for 99 yards and a score in a 20-13 loss as a sophomore.
“I think I got one of those touchdowns on him,” Green said.
Injury report: In addition to Burfict, left tackle Andrew Whitworth (calf), defensive tackle Geno Atkins (knee), running back BenJarvus Green-Ellis (hip) and cornerback Darqueze Dennard (hip) were among the players who did not practice Friday.
It was more of a rest day for Whitworth and Atkins, both of whom are expected to play Sunday, while Burfict continues to battle a stomach bug that has kept him sidelined all week.
For Atkins, it will be his first action since tearing his ACL in Miami last Halloween.
“I think Geno’s fine to go,” Lewis said. “Geno will go out there with the first group and roll around a little bit. He’s had a great couple weeks of practice and looks like Geno. So I’m impressed with that.”
Lewis said he doesn’t expect Dennard to play against the Cardinals. Lewis also proclaimed backup quarterback Jason Campbell “good to go” after missing last week’s game with a right arm injury suffered at Kansas City.
The statuses of right tackle Andre Smith and wide receiver Dane Sanzaenbacher are still up in the air as both players try to clear the final hurdle of concussion protocol.
Southern visitors: Five members of the Atlanta Braves, who are in town for a four-game series against the Cincinnati Reds, were guests of the Bengals at practice Friday afternoon.
Chris Johnson, David Hale, Gerald Laird, Ryan Doumit and Phil Gosselin chatted with Lewis and posed for photos during the first part of practice.