CINCINNATI (AP) -Bengals receiver Chris Henry returned to practice Wednesday with the NFL's permission, allowing him to work back into shape while serving the last two games of his suspension.
Henry played receiver on the scout team, simulating Pittsburgh's offense against Cincinnati's starting defense. The Bengals (2-4) play the Steelers (4-2) on Sunday at Paul Brown Stadium.
Henry has declined all interview requests since NFL commissioner Roger Goodell suspended him for the first eight games. The third-year receiver has been charged in four criminal cases and drawn two suspensions from the league for violating its conduct policy.
Under previous league policy, a suspended player could attend team meetings and work out at its facility, but couldn't participate in practice. The league gave permission for Henry to resume practicing with two games left in his suspension.
``The commissioner, since this is kind of new territory, is trying to give these guys an opportunity to come back and be around their teammates more,'' coach Marvin Lewis said. ``I think it's a positive step for him, and hopefully he understands he's had a long journey and that hopefully he sees the fact that it's almost over.''
The Bengals have deeply missed Henry, who also was benched for one game and suspended by the league for two more last season. Without a proven third receiver, the Bengals have been limited to throwing the ball to Chad Johnson and T.J. Houshmandzadeh.
Henry is eligible to return for a game Nov. 11 at Baltimore, provided that he stays out of trouble in the next two weeks. His return to practice is an indication that he has so far complied with the league's requirements.
``As soon as we get him back, I'm fired up,'' quarterback Carson Palmer said. ``How can you not be? His production speaks for itself. And it will be great when we get him back.''
Henry had nine touchdown catches in 13 games last season, tied with Houshmandzadeh for most by a Bengals receiver. He is one of 10 Bengals who faced criminal charges during a 14-month span, one of the factors that led Goodell to crack down on player misconduct.
Offensive coordinator Bob Bratkowski said the two additional weeks of practice will give Henry a chance to be ready for the game against Baltimore.
``It's going to certainly be a lot better than if he was only allowed to practice the week of the Baltimore game,'' Bratkowski said. ``It would be very hard for him to play. I think this two weeks gives him a chance to do some things in the Baltimore game. We'll see how it goes.''
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