SEPTEMBER 1, 2011
“I think it was one of the best fourth preseason games that I have been a part of. There were a lot of great teaching moments that we’ll be able to build upon going into this season. We were able to play a lot of guys that are battling for backup positions. The opportunities, chances and the amount of snaps they got tonight is great. I think everything (was great) except for the outcome, because when you go out there, you want to win the game.
“With the first group offensively, I liked the things that we started off doing. We got Andy (Dalton) some plays. I think he got 15 in. That’s what we were aiming at. I thought that we were pretty efficient there. Obviously, we have to correct the fumble with A.J. (Green). We’re making progress and we have to keep building upon that. We were able to go into the game tonight and rest some of the defensive guys. We played the linebackers a little bit just to keep them playing together. We rested the secondary guys where we had some depth. It was good to get the other group in there playing so we could get a good look at them. There were a lot of positives. We have some decisions to make over the next 48 hours or so.”
How challenging is it when you have so many guys?
“It’s a lot of guys. There will be a lot of guys — 27 guys from here and across the other 31 clubs. But, I think it was great to be afforded the luxury of getting guys out there to play tonight and actually see them play. Sometimes you really don’t get that opportunity, which was good.”
Was not playing
“Well, Bernard has been dealing with the hamstring thing for the entire training camp, basically. He played last week, but we wanted to keep him fresh and ready to go. The best thing for tonight was to not let him play. He was able to practice all week and we pulled him out to put him on the shelf.”
Was it good to see the two scoring drives that
“We kept Jerome (Simpson) and Andre (Caldwell) in there with Bruce so he could have some opportunity to have some success. It was good for him to have some weapons on the offensive side. I think he settled down tonight and play more within himself. That’s the thing I talked to him about after last week’s preseason game. ‘Just relax and let the game come to you. Don’t be too hyper.’ I think the other thing is, we get carried away with being able to communicate with him and we give him a lot of information. He did a good job tonight.”
What is your general feeling about the team going into the regular season?
“Well, we are where we are. There’s no going back now. The majority of the preseason is now over and now we are in preparation for the regular season. I think it’s been a good productive six weeks or so. I think we have gotten guys honed in on their spot and position and I feel good about where that is right now. Our team is forming and that is the big part — knowing where the strengths are and knowing where we need to get better.”
Do you feel like you got done what you wanted with the limited number of plays you had?
“I think so, besides the first drive. On the second drive, we came out and we moved the ball well. We had the turnover, which we can’t have. That seems to be the trend for this preseason. We have to get that fixed. I thought we moved the ball well and did a good job.”
How much of that (turnovers) is just working with everybody and getting on the same page to eliminate the turnovers?
“That’s a lot of it. When you’re on the field, you have to know when you have points and protect the ball and all the little things, like knowing which throws to make. It’s all phases. It’s something that happened. I’m glad it happened now so we can learn from that and move on from it.”
How ready do you feel going into the season next week?
“I ready and I’m excited. It’s a great opportunity for me. The regular season will be different than the preseason, but I’m excited about what we have in front of us and the talent that we have on this team.”
Do you wish it were sooner?
“It will be good to have a little bit of rest and prepare for this first one. Once the first one starts, it’s every week.”
Is it difficult as a rookie to try and be in a leadership position?
“It depends on the guys you have around you. We have a lot of great guys here and they’ve made my job a whole lot easier. I feel confident with everyone and can step in the huddle and take control, and the guys are responding. As time goes and the more experience that I get, that will come easier. It can be tough being a rookie but you can’t let that affect you.”
How much has Bruce Gradkowski helped you?
“Bruce has helped me a lot just with the experience that he’s had. He’s been in the league for a while. Just the different thoughts on the sideline after a series and hearing what he has to say, along with the coaches. He’s definitely been helping me out, especially watching film and with the little things, too. I’m glad that we got him. He’s definitely helped me out a lot.”
Eleven Carries for 57 yards, and you were targeted a few times in the passing game. That’s 13 touches for almost 70 yards:
“It was a pretty good workload. The O-line did great. We moved the ball well, we just couldn’t put the ball in the end zone. You have to score points.”
Not getting points in your early red-zone opportunities gave them the chance to come back and score points:
“Exactly. If we would’ve put the ball in the end zone in the first quarter, we would have won this game. There’s still a lot to learn, and we’re looking forward to coming out and playing next week.”
Is it fun to be a running back in Jay Gruden’s offense?
“Absolutely. You’re going to catch, run and be the workhorse of the offense. It’s a lot of fun.”
You have a diverse backfield. It’s a pretty nice group:
“We have a great backfield with a bunch of guys with different skill sets. My strength is catching the ball in the backfield and making people miss. We can do a lot of different things.”
Twenty-seven guys are going to be cut from this team. It’s a tough thing isn’t it?
“It is. Everyone has made friends on this team. One of my buddies is already gone — Jordan Palmer. It’s part of the game. People know it’s coming, so you have to play your butt off in the preseason to get noticed and be a part of the team.”
You saw some action tonight:
“I’m just going out there and playing football — trying to get in a groove. It felt good to be back out there.”
There’s conditioning and there is football conditioning. You’re in football condition right now aren’t you?
“Of course. I only had a couple days of practice and still went out there and played. I’m going to be in great shape for the first week of the season.”
It seems like you’re going to get your fair share of snaps this season:
“Whatever they decide to do with me is fine. I’m going to continue to play hard. I’ve played a lot of snaps before so it’s just another day for me.”
Lack of red-zone efficiency ended up costing you the game:
“We’re going to have our ups and downs. That was a great opportunity for our offense to get some work in the red zone.”
It was nice to see you out there playing well against Colts center Jeff Saturday:
“I just went out there and tried to do my thing.”
Thoughts on new pickups in secondary:
“Yeah, I think we’ll be in good shape. Obviously we’re saddened to lose Jonathan Joseph. He was one of my good friends. As far as football is concerned, I think we have guys who are filling in great for him. We’ve been able to get some guys who we know can play the nickel back and who can play some second string.”
How did you think the second-stringers played tonight?
“Any kind of reps you can get early on in the season is going to help the team. As far as depth, if someone goes down, there will be someone who has confidence to step in.”
How prepared do you think you guys are for Cleveland?
“I think we’re fine, but I can only speak for the defense. Defensively, I think the new guys were able to get a full understanding of the system in the past month. We haven’t switched up much, so the guys who have been here only need a refresher course. I think we’re in good shape. We have a lot of guys are comfortable.”
What are your feelings going into this year?
“I feel really good, but that’s true of every year. As soon as the last preseason game ends, you start to get excited about the regular season. It’s time to start thinking about Cleveland. There is some excitement going around. I don’t do predictions, but I do have a good feeling about the team, and especially the defense.”
What are your thoughts on playing without Carson Palmer?
“This is our team, the guys that are in this locker room. I’m sure they’re going to cut it down to the roster limit, but the guys who are in here will make up this team. This is going to be the makeup of this team. I’m glad to be a part of it and blocking for
More on Carson Palmer:
“That’s just business. It is what it is. Carson is a good friend of mine — always has been and always will be. This is business. This is work. All of that is in the past. We’re moving forward. There’s no more to elaborate on. It is what it is. I like what we have here and it’s a real good thing.”
Have you done a lot of punt returns in your career?
“I haven’t done a lot, but Coach Simmons worked with me all week, so I feel a bit more comfortable. Thank (goodness) I was able to make a play.”
Do you think you have a chance to make the team before the cuts on Saturday?
“It’s hard to say, but I feel like I have a shot. It’s out of my hands. All I can do is what I can control. I try not to bother my mind with it.”
Do you think you have a shot at the practice squad?
“I don’t know what to think. It’s out of my control, one way or the other. That’s life.”
How do you think you did tonight?
“That’s the thing, you really have no idea. They’re going to make decisions in terms of what’s best for the Cincinnati Bengals.”
Do you have practice squad eligibility?
“Yes I do.”
What are your impressions of Kerry Collins so far?
“It's like you would expect. It isn’t perfect, but if we had protected him a little bit better it would have been better overall. There was the sack and a few drops that stalled some of the drives. In terms of managing things at the line of scrimmage and how he managed himself in those situations, I think he did well.”
It was good to come out tonight and finish the preseason like this:
“The guys hung in there, particularly during the second half. The defense did a nice job of holding down while we only scored field goals, and they really gave us a chance to get back in it.”
Are you comfortable with where your offensive line is right now?
“I think that we have gotten a lot of work together. Today was a day where we wanted to get some more work done. The guys did work well together and I think when it all was said and done we will have a solid unit.”
Was there any thought to playing your skill position guys with Kerry Collins?
“Yes, we thought about it.”
What made you decide that?
“There are a lot of things you have to take into consideration. Two of our receivers were down. Anthony (Gonzalez) and Austin (Collie) both weren’t able to go and I wanted to be conservative in that regard. I also felt that Reggie (Wayne) and Pierre (Garcon) didn’t need any more snaps at this point in time.”
How tough are the decisions that you have to make in the next two days?
“Like every year, games like this make it a very tough battle. Guys come up and they play well, making it very competitive. The harder it is means that we are probably going to have a better team. Some of the decisions are hard to make because guys are very, very close in terms of talent level and proficiency. There are going to be quite a few tough decisions.”
How do you look at your quarterback situation right now?
“This is the time of year that we go through all of those things. We will talk about them in detail during the next couple of days and will base our decisions on several things — what we see in the film, how we want to shape our team, health factors and other things. We deal with a number of different scenarios and narrow it down until we come up with the best solution for us. That is going to take us a couple of days to do so.”
How did you feel tonight?
“I felt good. I kind of got the crash course in the last week or so here. I felt comfortable with things. I felt like I saw the field real well and made some good throws, but there’s definitely a lot to be learned from today. But all in all, I think a lot of positive things happened.”
Was tonight more about getting out there and playing than statistics?
“There’s a little bit of both in that. Obviously, it was my first time out there running the offense. My main focus was running it efficiently and trying to make good decisions and good reads. I think for the most part I did that. There were a couple operational things that came up that I’ll learn from. Other than that, like I said, I think there were a lot of positive things that happened.”
Was it a called play to air it out on the first play, or an audible?
“It was a called play. I think they wanted to see how far I could throw it still, I don’t know. But it worked out great for us; it was the first play out of the gate. I wish we would have scored a touchdown on the drive, but it was good to start off that way.”
All in all, was tonight a good first step?
“I think so, yeah. Obviously I would like to do better as an offense as whole and personally. But like I said, I think there were some positive things that happened, but at the same time there are a lot of things I have to learn from today. So we’ll build on the positives and correct the negatives.”
How much was your performance affected by the absence of WR Reggie Wayne and RB Joseph Addai?
“Obviously, they’re both great players. But I had confidence in the guys that went in, guys that I worked with a lot during the week since I’ve been here. There were plays out there to be made. I certainly missed a couple that could have resulted in a little better of plays for us. I thought, all in all, the guys did a good job.”
Was running that offense like what you expected to be?
“Yeah, it really was. Like I said, there were a couple of operational things that I have to clean up, but for the most part, it’s fun to be able to go up to the line and have a lot of options. And I think what this offense lends you is the ability to get to the right play. I think for the most part I got us in the right play and did some positive things in that regard.”
What are you talking when you say operational things?
“There are always little nuances within an offense. If you do this, then that kind of thing. There were a couple things that popped up in that regard that either I hadn’t had before, or it was something that cropped up that I hadn’t seen before in practice. Those are positive things. Those are good things, especially in a preseason game, to be able to have them happen without it being a regular season game and the penalty would be real bad.”
How much fun was it to unload one on the very first play?
“It was fun. (WR David Gilreath) did a good job of getting behind the safety. I just had to air it out for him and let him go get it. It was a big play to get a good chunk of yards on the first play.”
Did you get enough of a first-game feel tonight?
“I think so, yeah. But like I said during the week, it’s one thing to do it on the practice field and it’s another thing to do it in a game. For the most part, even though offensively we struggled a little bit, I feel like some good things happened out there.”
Are you curious to see how next week is going to unfold with the uncertainty surrounding Peyton Manning?
“All of that stuff will play out. Throughout the years, there have been so many circumstances where I’ve had to play at the drop of a hat if need be. No one really knows what’s going to happen. I know that Peyton is working his tail off to get back in there. If I’m needed I’ll be ready to go.”
Tell us how you played tonight:
“It was tough down there on the goal line tonight. Everyone was giving their all. The line was really pushing for me. There was a little crease in there and I was able to score. It was hot out there. I was pretty drained. I was trying to suck it up and get (the ball) in there.”
Did this have a familiar feel, with you receiving the bulk of the carries tonight?
“This is how we envisioned it. This was the last preseason game. It was going to be a battle to get in (the game) and see what we could do. Tonight was about playing as fast as we could and giving a little heart, too.”
Do you think you’ve done enough to stick on this football team?
“That’s not my call. That’s the coaches’ call. I try to give my best in each and every rep in practices and games. That’s what I’m going to live with, knowing I did my best on the field. (The decision) is in their hands. I just have to live with it.”
Talk about your play tonight:
“I made my mistakes. I’m actually glad I made them, because now I can work on fixing them and try to complete my game to a place where I would like it to be.”
Are you ready to contribute when the season starts Sept. 11 in Houston?
“I’m definitely ready to contribute on special teams, defense or wherever it is the team needs me. I’m starting to improve every week.”
Reflect on getting to play a few games in the preseason:
“I got to a play a lot in those games and got a lot of reps. I definitely made some mistakes, but there were positives along the way. I have things I can work on to continue to improve my game.”
Do you feel like you are making strides after essentially a year off from playing football?
“Going from rehabilitating my knee to playing football itself is progression. I couldn’t be happier.”
Reflect on wrapping up the preseason as a starter tonight:
“It’s another opportunity to get better and try to make the roster. It shows the coaches have confidence in me. It’s a real vote of confidence to be out there in front of Kerry Collins, with the rest of the starting offensive line.”
Did it feel good to get back in the game and score the touchdown after being injured earlier?
“I was trying so hard to get back into the game. It means a lot. I’m trying to make this team. The coaches gave me the opportunity to do so. That was a blessing.”
Is getting reps a big part of tonight?
“I got some game experience tonight. I was at the wide receiver position and that definitely helped me.”
Talk about the first play of the game:
“We went for a shot and made a play. Wide receivers are known for making big plays. That’s the name of the game.”
How tough will your next 48 hours be?
“Real tough. Like Coach (Caldwell) told me, ‘This is my resume.’ I tried to go out and make the best of (the game). I can’t really say I did a bad job because I gave it my all. I’m human, so I have to think about it. I had the opportunity to make plays today.”