Bengals punter Huber returns to place he broke jaw

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CINCINNATI (AP) — Kevin Huber is going back to the stadium where he suffered his worst moment, fresh off the biggest honor of his career.

The Bengals punter was picked for his first Pro Bowl this week. On Sunday, he'll be back in Pittsburgh, where he was hit during a punt return last December and broke his jaw and cracked a vertebra in his neck.

"I'll get someone to write a book about it," Huber said. "It's been a long year. This time a year ago, I was getting ready to watch the last game of the year in a neck brace. Now, we're going back there in the playoffs, being selected to the Pro Bowl."

The Bengals (10-4-1) will play the Steelers (10-5) for the AFC North title, with the loser getting a wild card.

Huber has managed to stay healthy this week. Several of his teammates have missed practice with the flu, which has spread throughout the region. Six players were listed on the injury report Friday with illness.

Safety Reggie Nelson and cornerbacks Adam "Pacman" Jones and Terence Newman were listed as questionable because of the flu. Kicker Mike Nugent and offensive lineman Clint Boling were considered probable despite being sick.

Quarterback Andy Dalton said on Friday that he feels fully recovered after missing practice two days earlier.

"I think it was just another 24-hour thing," Dalton said. "I'm glad I'm past that. It's crazy how contagious this thing has been. Hopefully we can limit who all's getting it, but it's definitely been spreading."

Receiver A.J. Green practiced again on Friday and was listed as probable. He severely bruised his upper right arm during a win over Denver on Monday night.

Last year, Huber's season ended in Pittsburgh. Terence Garvin hit him in the jaw with his helmet during Antonio Brown's 67-yard punt return. Garvin was fined $25,000 for the hit, which broke Huber's jaw at the chin. He also cracked a vertebra.

His jaw was wired shut for three months, causing him to lose 15 pounds. He was limited during offseason workouts while the vertebra fully healed.

Huber got off to a slow start as he worked his way back into form, but wound up with his most consistent season overall. He's fourth in the NFL with a net average of 43 yards and has 27 punts inside the 20-yard line, tied for seventh best.

"After the first preseason game, I had my first punt and it was, 'OK, it's back to normal,'" Huber said. "I haven't thought about that at all. I don't have any worries or hesitation about going out there."

Making the Pro Bowl a season after his injury was especially gratifying.

"I had hoped for it, but I didn't want to get my hopes up too much because on any given day, you can have a bad day and it just kills you," Huber said. "Luckily our guys played well all year and we didn't have any big returns against us."

NOTES: TE Tyler Eifert was in the locker room Friday with his left arm in a brace. Lewis said Eifert had surgery on the left shoulder about two weeks ago to repair an injury from training camp. Eifert hurt his right elbow in the season opener and went on injured reserve with a chance to return, but the elbow didn't heal as fast as hoped. ... Linebacker Emmanuel Lamur was questionable with a hamstring injury. Defensive end Wallace Gilberry (hamstring) and cornerback Darqueze Dennard (shin) were listed as probable.


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