Bengals' first-team defense aims to keep Colts out of endzone, cap perfect preseason

First unit hasn't given up a touchdown

CINCINNATI - The Bengals' first-team defense will be out to keep its perfect record intact against the Indianapolis Colts in their final preseason game Thursday night.

While both teams are expected to keep key players on the sidelines rather than risk injury, the early focus will be on the Bengals' main defense as it tries to complete the preseason without giving up a touchdown.

The Bengals (1-2) will be missing Pro Bowl linebacker Vontaze Burfict, who signed a three-year contract extension through 2017 on Wednesday. Burfict pulled his right hamstring in Arizona on Sunday but expects to be ready for the season opener in Baltimore a week from Sunday.

"It's just around the corner," Burfict said. "I'll be ready."

One of the questions in Cincinnati's training camp was how the defense and offense would adapt to new coordinators.

Coach Marvin Lewis gives two thumbs-up.

"I'm very pleased with both of our coordinators and where we are right now," Lewis said. "Things have unfolded just as they described to the players. They've gained the credibility."

The starting defense, now coordinated by Paul Guenther, didn't allow a touchdown in the first three games.

Hue Jackson took over the offense, installed a more up-tempo approach and saw pleasing results.

Andy Dalton completed 70.6 percent of his passes in the first three preseason games for 372 yards with one touchdown, no sacks and no interceptions, which equates to a passer rating of 116.3.

Both teams are mostly happy with how their starting units have looked in the first three preseason games.

Colts linebacker Robert Mathis might as well enjoy Thursday night's game since he won't be playing for the next four weeks.

Mathis has to serve a four-game suspension for violating the NFL's policy on performance-enhancing substances.

The Colts (0-3) will use the game to help them decide whether Mike Adams, Colt Anderson or Sergio Brown starts at safety opposite LaRon Landry.

Also, coach Vince Pagano will be looking at how his inexperienced offensive linemen perform as he reconfigures things to accommodate left guard Donald Thomas' injury. Thomas will miss the season with a torn thigh muscle.

"They've got to play," Pagano said of the young linemen. "As much as you want to protect everybody, if you will, guys have got to play."

Otherwise, the Colts feel good about an offense that was one of the NFL's most dangerous quarterbacks with Andrew Luck.

"Anytime you have (Luck) behind center, it's a good feeling," tight end Coby Fleener said.

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