CINCINNATI -- Bengals safety George Iloka joked that he picked a bad day to return to practice due to the high temperatures in Cincinnati on Tuesday. But it was clear by his smile that he didn't really mean it.
Despite a cloudless sky that had coaches wringing out shirts drenched with sweat and players sporting rolled up jerseys to get some relief, Iloka was happy to be doing anything other than working on the rehab field.
Iloka was able to practice for the first time since July 30, when he sprained his knee on a non-contact play. He said everything is progressing on schedule now.
Iloka was limited to individual drills with the other defensive backs, but was able to make cuts on the injured knee.
"I've been progressing forward," Iloka said. "So we're happy about that, positive about that, and we're not rushing anything."
There's no timetable for Iloka's full return to practice, but he did say he would like to get some preseason reps under his belt.
"That's just me personally," he said. "Mentally, I feel like I'll be sharp, but there's a rhythm, especially for DBs. It's all about getting in a rhythm. ... Obviously I'm going to try to get out there as soon as I can."
With Iloka, Cedric Peerman and John Ross back, the Bengals' injury list has dwindled to just a few players: KeiVarae Russell, Cody Core and C.J. Uzomah all sat out and Carl Lawson was limited. Brandon Wilson remains on the non-football injury list.
Defense wins the day again: Tuesday's practice was a significant improvement for the offense, which had its worst practice of training camp on Monday. The defense blitzed less on Tuesday, which might have made the difference.
However, Tuesday was probably still a win overall for the defense.
Andy Dalton misfired on several deep passes, throwing a tight spiral to A.J. Green in the end zone that had the distance but landed several feet to his right. He later overthrew Green, Tyler Eifert and John Ross. On another play, he was sacked by Geno Atkins. Dre Kirkpatrick also broke up a Dalton pass. Dalton was better on shorter routes, completing passings to Green, Eifert, Ross, Tyler Boyd, Tyler Kroft, Brandon LaFell and Josh Malone.
Plays of the day: Giovani Bernard threw a stiff arm into defender on a run up the middle for a nice gain. Bernard has been allowed to do more this week as he recovers from his torn ACL, including working in the goal-line package, which is typically the only live tackling work the Bengals do in practice. ... Josh Shaw pressured McCarron on one play, followed by another pressure by Will Clarke and then a sack by a blitzing Kevin Minter. ... Darqueze Dennard picked off McCarron but McCarron was sacked on the play by Josh Shaw. McCarron was also sacked by Hardy Nickerson. ... Ross caught his first touchdown pass from McCarron as a Bengal on a slant route. ... Jeremy Hill bounced outside for an nice gain, aided by a block from Clint Boling. ... Green had a one handed catch against Adam Jones in one-on-one drills down the sideline.
'Not' plays of the day: Linebacker Marquis Flowers hit the arm of quarterback Jeff Driskel when trying to swat down a pass, prompting Marvin Lewis to bark at him and sideline him for the rest of the series. Quarterbacks are not supposed to be hit, and Driskel was seen shaking out his hand a few times following the play. ... Kroft dropped a pass from McCarron. ... Dalton's pass to Boyd was a little high and went through his arms. ... Joe Mixon ran right into Boling, who had been pushed out of his stance by Andrew Billings. He bounced off and took a few more steps, but was stuffed.
ETC: Vontaze Burfict and Cedric Ogbuehi briefly got in each others faces before Joe Mixon and LaFell quickly broke things up. ... Alonzo Russell ended up in the bushes after Derron Smith gave him a shove out of bounds, stumbling back several yards before landing. Teammates came over to help pull him out. ... Andre Smith, who was wearing a brace on his arm again, was the second-team right tackle, while Trey Hopkins played first-team right guard again.