The Cincinnati Bengals made the first step toward digging out from their historically bad start Friday, firing offensive coordinator Ken Zampese a day after they again failed to get into the end zone.
Quarterbacks coach Bill Lazor was promoted to coordinator, a spot he held with the Miami Dolphins in 2014-15. He didn’t expect the shake-up.
“When you’ve been in this league long enough, you see a whole bunch of different things happen,” Lazor said. “Not many of them are shocking anymore. You come in the day after a tough loss and try to figure out how to make it better. Obviously, it took some different turns.”
The move was announced an hour after coach Marvin Lewis declined to talk about changes in response to a 13-9 loss to the Houston Texans at Paul Brown Stadium on Thursday night. Cincinnati (0-2) has yet to score a touchdown in 25 possessions this season.
The Bengals are the first team since the 1939 Eagles to open a season with two home games and fail to score a touchdown, according to information from the Elias Sports Bureau shared by ESPN. They lost to the Ravens 20-0 on Sunday, the first time in their 50-year history that they were blanked in a home opener.
Zampese was Cincinnati’s quarterbacks coach for 13 seasons before moving up to coordinator last year when Hue Jackson went to Cleveland as the head coach. The offense lost its flair and creativity last season, when receiver A.J. Green, tight end Tyler Eifert and running back Giovani Bernard missed significant time because of injuries.
The offense was back to full strength but struggled to get first downs against the Ravens and Texans, leading to Zampese’s firing.
Marshawn Lynch’s return to the NFL came with a price. The Oakland Raiders running back was fined $12,154 by the league for flipping the middle finger on both hands last Sunday in the fourth quarter of the team’s 26-16 victory at Tennessee. Lynch, who was retired last season, ran for 76 yards on 18 carries and caught a 16-yard pass.
Three Pittsburgh players — linebacker Ryan Shazier, cornerback William Gay and safety J.J. Wilcox — were each fined $24,309 for unnecessary roughness against Cleveland.
New Orleans safety Kenny Vaccaro and linebacker Alex Anzalone were also docked $24,309 for hits to the head, as was the Los Angeles Chargers’ Melvin Ingram.
Fined $9,115 on Friday were: San Francisco’s Jaquiski Tartt, the New York Jets’ Darron Lee, Detroit’s Jarrad Davis and Green Bay’s Martellus Bennett — all for unnecessary roughness — and Minnesota’s Linval Joseph (facemask).
In other NFL news:
-- The Oakland Raiders signed offensive lineman Donald Penn to a $21-million, two-year extension, ensuring the Pro Bowl left tackle will remain with the team through the 2019 season. Penn, 34, had missed much of training camp and preseason while holding out in search of a new contract. He is making $5.8 million in base salary this season but had been looking for a deal that would put him in the top 10 of offensive linemen. The new deal, announced Friday, puts Penn in the top 15 and kicks in after this season. “It’s good, now I can focus on football,” Penn said. “I can just enjoy my teammates, enjoy everything, enjoy the process and just focus on football because there was a lot of doubt. I didn’t want to hit free agency again. That’s one thing I tried to make sure.”
-- New York Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. is doing a little more at practice and appears to be getting closer to playing Monday night against the Detroit Lions. Coach Ben McAdoo said Friday that Beckham responded well Thursday to his first practice in more than three weeks, but the three-time Pro Bowler was still listed as limited for the workout. Beckham has not played in a game since injuring his left ankle on Aug. 21 in a preseason game. He missed the season opener against Dallas.
-- Miami Dolphins linebacker Rey Maualuga has been ruled out of Sunday’s season opener at the Los Angeles Chargers because of a hamstring injury. Receiver Jarvis Landry was listed as questionable because of a knee injury and limited in practice Friday. Coach Adam Gase said Landry has some swelling but likely will play. Maualuga, who signed with Miami last month, didn’t practice this week. In his absence, third-year pro Mike Hull will make his second career start at middle linebacker.
-- The Denver Broncos have signed veteran defensive tackle Ahtyba Rubin and placed defensive end Jared Crick on injured reserve. Crick is facing possible back surgery for an injury that occurred in training camp and kept him out of the Broncos’ season opener. Rubin started every game the last two seasons in Seattle after spending his first seven seasons in Cleveland. The Seahawks released him just before the season after acquiring former Jets lineman Sheldon Richardson.