CINCINNATI (AP) — Jeff Driskel's debut as the Bengals' starting quarterback went poorly all around. At least he's got experience on his side the second time around.
Driskel threw for a touchdown, but had an interception, four sacks and a fumble as Cincinnati lost to Denver 24-10 at Paul Brown Stadium. Driskel will make his second start Sunday in Los Angeles against the Chargers (9-3), who have won eight of their past nine games.
He expects things to be smoother this week as he gets ready for his second start.
"Definitely in some ways it's easier, but that doesn't mean it's easy," Driskel said Wednesday. "That's something I've done in the past in college, but everything is totally new at this level."
After four straight losses, the Bengals (5-7) are looking for any positive they can find.
The offense has slid a little more each week as its most important players got hurt. Receiver A.J Green injured a toe on his right foot during the Bengals' previous win, 37-34 over the Buccaneers on Oct. 28. He missed the next three games and returned last Sunday, but aggravated the injury and is out for the rest of the season.
The Bengals put Green on injured reserve Wednesday. Coach Marvin Lewis said the receiver is getting medical opinions about whether he needs surgery, but he's expected back for the start of offseason workouts.
Quarterback Andy Dalton tore a ligament in his passing thumb two weeks ago and had surgery. Left tackle Cordy Glenn has missed the past two games with a bad back, prompting a line shuffle.
The offense hasn't done much of anything when it mattered in the past four games, scoring seven points or fewer in the first half. Three of them turned into blowouts.
Penalties were the biggest problem against the Broncos. The Bengals were flagged twice for holding, twice for false starts, and also for an illegal block and an illegal shift, contributing to long-yardage situations they couldn't convert.
Nine times, they faced third-and-11 or worse, including a third-and-25, third-and-29, and third-and-35. Cincinnati was only 5 of 13 on third downs.
"You look at the list of third downs in that first half, it's incredible — 24, 25, 39, 24, whatever," offensive coordinator Bill Lazor said.
Lazor said there were some problems adjusting to a different quarterback that are being addressed in practice this week.
"There were a couple things in the huddle or at the line that weren't great, but I'm not sure that it was him," Lazor said. "There were a couple miscommunications. I think there were two runs where half the line maybe went the wrong way. Hard to say why that would happen."
Don't go shopping
Rookie center Billy Price has felt fans' discontent when he's out in public. He said Wednesday that shoppers mention the offensive line's struggles while he's shopping for groceries.
"Yeah, I go to Kroger's and people have issues, so it's fun," Price said. "You laugh, but I'm serious."
The Bengals filled Green's roster spot by activating cornerback Davontae Harris from the injured reserve list. Harris suffered a knee injury in the preseason.
Glenn, linebacker Vontaze Burfict (concussion) and cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick (ankle) were among those who didn't practice on Wednesday. Running back Joe Mixon (foot), defensive end Carlos Dunlap (hip) and defensive end Michael Johnson (chest) were among those limited.