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Wednesday transcripts

Posted Nov 28, 2012

MARVIN LEWIS (with Cincinnati media)

On results of 2012 Meijer Canned Food Drive:
ML: “First, I want to announce the results of the Freestore Foodbank’s Meijer Canned Food Drive from last Sunday. There were over 7,800 pounds of food donated, and over $16,000 in cash, which enables the Freestore Foodbank to feed over 25,000 families in the Tri-State area. So again, I want to say thanks to all of the fans and people who came out and contributed to that.”

On Sunday’s game at San Diego:
ML: “Looking at the Chargers, offensively they’re led by Phil Rivers, who is a very, very good quarterback. He is a tough guy, a guy that stands in there and delivers the football accurately in many different ways. He’s a wonder to continue to watch in how he goes about and does things. He’s a great leader of the team. They have some skill guys in (Malcom) Floyd and Antonio Gates as receivers of the football that are just excellent. And Ryan Matthews, their (running) back, is a very fine back. He had some injuries earlier in the year, but he’s a hard-running guy. He’s got great speed. He’s a guy that we have to be conscious of as both a runner and receiver.

“Defensively, statistically they’re playing very well. They’re giving up a few more points lately, but they’ve playing pretty sound defense. They’re good against the run, they get a lot of pressure on the quarterback. Last week, they had a number of sacks against Baltimore. It really comes down to doing a great job up front on both sides of the line of scrimmage, just as we’ve been talking about doing over the last month. It’s going to need to continue again this Sunday for us to have the success we need to have in San Diego.”

The Chargers defense has had a few pick-sixes this season. Is that a result of something they do schematically?
ML: “They’ve done a nice job of playing on the football and making breaks on the ball. They obviously have guys that have a good feel for the game, in order to step in front of balls and have an opportunity to return them for touchdowns.”

Chargers FS Eric Weddle has been playing very well over the last few years:
ML: “Weddle has really played well. He fits well into their scheme. He’s a really heady and smart player, much like the safeties we see over here in our division, with (Troy) Polamalu and Ed Reed. He’s one of those kinds of guys who you can tell has a great understanding of the offense, then gets himself in the right spots.”

Chargers defensive coordinator John Pagano’s scheme seems to be a simpler one, that way he can let his fast players get out there and play freely. Would you agree?
ML: “I think they’re pretty complex in what they do. They’ve got some athletic guys that can apply a lot of pressure. You’re going to see many different looks – split looks, four-down looks, five- man pressure. You’re going to see different styles of zone blitzes throughout what they do. rap zones, two-deep zones, fire zones, man-to-man. So they run the gamut.”

Is Shaun Phillips the king of their efforts to pressure the QB? Does he set the tempo for what they do?
ML: “He’s one of them. We know what a good football player Jarret Johnson is, who they added on their defense. It’s a well-put-together group, with big, strong guys in the middle of it.”

How does Takeo Spikes look?
ML: “Takeo just keeps playing. He’s playing very well in there. He’s plays weakside-inside linebacker in their base defense and does a great job. They keep him covered up, and he does a great job of scraping to the football and making tackles.”

You can never take playoff appearances for granted, but it’s amazing that this is Takeo Spikes’s 15th season and he’s never played in a playoff game:
ML: “It’s an incredible thing for what a good player he is. He’s been on (five) different teams now. I got to know Takeo after he left here. We spent some time together the first two or three weeks I was here, and then free agency happened and poof, he was gone. We spent a lot of time in my office those first couple weeks before that occurred, but I’ve really gotten a chance to visit with him more since he left here than I did in the short period of time he was here as a player.”

Do you ever wonder what might have been, had he stayed in Cincinnati?
ML: “I wish I would’ve done a better job. It’s one that got away. He would’ve been an outstanding player. I wish we could’ve got it done better.”

Do you think he’s a little wistful about it too, considering you’ve been to the playoffs a few times?
ML: “It would have been great. He’s a fine player. Obviously to still be playing, he’s got a lot of ability.”

He would probably still be here:
ML: “I would hope. If he’s playing there, I would hope he would still be playing here. He’d have that playoff thing more than we have – maybe – with him.”

When he was a free agent last year, was he a guy you looked at to possibly bring back?
ML: “It was somebody we looked at, yes. But his position was different than what we were looking for at that time.”

What was your thought process on putting the ‘C’ on jerseys of Rey Maualuga and Andy Dalton, signifying that they are captains?
ML: “They’ve been captains the last four football games. It just came to me one morning running that I should go ahead and put the C's on their jerseys and make it known that way and continue to empower them to do the things I’ve asked them to do. But make it physical now, where everybody sees it. I didn’t tell them about it. I just did it. I told (equipment manager Jeff Brickner) to get it done on Friday morning.”

The San Diego offensive line seems to be in transition. How are they playing up front?
ML: “They’ve had some people they’ve had to shuffle around, but the more you play together, the better you get. Those same guys will be playing this week, so we’ve got our work cut out for us. We have to get our pads down, we’ve got to get off on the football, we’ve got to do a great job. This guy (Philip Rivers) does a great job with the cadence and the hard counts and everything, so we have to be very conscious of that throughout the week. We have to focus in on that football, and we have to go beat them to the punch.”

Historically, this franchise has struggled in games on the West Coast, but last year you won at Seattle to buck that trend. Was that a little bit of a breakthrough?
ML: “We also won on the West Coast in 2003, and then lost a bunch of close games on the West Coast. I don’t think it matters whether we play them here or play them in sunny San Diego. Our job is to go beat their tails this week.”

But why is it more difficult?
ML: “There is no reasoning. If that were the case, a West Coast team could never come to the East Coast and win, because they have to do that more often than we have to go to the West Coast. If your team is better, you win. If your team doesn’t play as well, you lose. Plain and simple.”

Does it become a crutch for some people?
ML: “I don’t know. I’ve never thought of it that way. And our guys certainly don’t care, because none of them were here. It doesn’t matter. It didn’t matter last year when we went out to Seattle and beat their tails. It doesn’t matter. You go play the game. We’ll play it outside in the parking lot of Longworth Hall, and we’ll be ready to play Sunday.”

You’ve studied it, but after you put all the data in, is that what it comes down to? It doesn’t matter where you play?
ML: “What matters is you prepare your football team to go play their best football come Sunday afternoon.”

What is the advantage of traveling on Friday to a West Coast game, as opposed to a Saturday?
ML: “Only once in my 22 years in the NFL have I ever been involved with a team that went out on Saturday. To me, the Friday thing is because when we go to Florida or the West Coast, we see an influx of our player families. From my perspective of it, that's the best thing we get accomplished. We get the time change handled and we get the families, because players get overrun with their families. It gives them an opportunity Friday evening to spend time with their family, and us to have our normal day on Saturday.

“Then, by Saturday afternoon they are pretty much done with their families. They had enough Friday night (laughs). They've got all the tickets done and handled. So they can go back and focus on football, because they want to have their time separate and apart as well. To me that's the biggest advantage of going on a Friday. When I coached with the Steelers, we went to Florida two days early because of those things, because you get just overrun by that. We did in Baltimore once I believe, too. That's the thing I like the most about it – once we get together on Saturday, it's our normal Saturday. It's what we'd normally do each and every time, and we get our guys in bed earlier than normal because we are not going to be on the same body clock, but we get close enough. Then it's time to have at it.”

With a team like San Diego, who lost last week on a fourth-and-29 play, they can go one of two ways. Do you expect their best effort this weekend?
ML: “I expect their best effort. This is a good football team. Their record isn't reflecting where they want to be. They’ve got good players, they’re well-coached. We have to play great football. You said the word: we can't turn the football over. We’ve got to take the football from them and create short fields.”

Kyle Cook said today that he will be back on the field today for practice:
ML: “It will be great for Kyle to get an opportunity back to some resemblance of practicing football. It's not quite the same with the atmosphere that you would have today, being a non-padded day just in shells. So for two days, it gets him an opportunity to get acclimated that way, pushing on 300-pound people again, rather than (Bengals director of rehabilitation Nick Cosgray) out there at about 150 (pounds) soaking wet. It's a good thing for him to get back doing those things. He was out there and took care of those things during walkthrough today. So it’s great work for him get back to making the calls and handling the different snaps and cadences. He's been into it for two or three weeks since he's been back in the meetings, and having him back on the field is good. We'll see how he goes. He's got to feel right about it and I’ve got to see what I’ve got to see as time goes on. We really have no timeframe of if and when he would be brought to the roster. There is no timeframe, so please don't write that anymore because we don't put time frames on injured players.”

Does the recovery time ramp up faster for linemen than it does skill position players?
ML: “I don't know. He's had an injury that had significant surgery, and he’s gone through a rehab period. The specialists are comfortable with him and the team doctor is comfortable with him beginning this process, and they will evaluate him as he goes. So far it has been good. The activity he's had has been good.”

You said there are no pads today at practice. Is that a nod to the long road trip coming this weekend?
ML: “No, it's where we are in the season and part of the collective bargaining agreement.”

You said there is no timeframe, but there is a roster exemption starts today that forces a decision to be made in the next few weeks...
ML: “It starts today. That can start and stop.”

You still have some padded practices left this season, right?
ML: “We do, yes.”



ANDY DALTON (with Cincinnati media)

The San Diego defense does a good job of stopping the run. They seem to switch a lot between a 4-3 and 3-4 scheme:
AD: “They switch between the 3-4 and 4-3 stuff. In the base defense where they are really good against the run – they are tied for fifth in the league. It is going to be a challenge for us to run the ball. We’ve done a good job of challenging guys the past couple weeks to really move it on the ground. We’ll hopefully find ways to do that this week, too.”

It looks like their safety position got beat up a little bit injury-wise in last week’s game. What do they look like in the secondary?
AD: “Their corners are guys who have been around for awhile. (Quentin) Jammer is in his 10th or 11th year. For us, we have to be sound and get the right depths on routes and not give away what we’re doing. The two guys on the outside are strengths for them.”

Are they a defense that blitzes a lot?
AD: “They have some. I’m not sure what the percentage is. They do some stuff with guys around and disguise what they are doing.”

Chargers defensive coordinator John Pagano’s mantra is to keep it simple. It doesn’t seem like they do a whole lot of shifting and moving:
AD: “They do a good job of holding the safeties on rotations and not letting you know which way to drop. You have to know your keys.”

How much do you think their defense is out to prove something after the way they gave up the fourth-and-29 play against Baltimore last week?
AD: “I’m sure they do have something to prove. They had chances to make the stop, but they didn’t get it done. Giving up that big play hurt them in that game. All you can do is use that as motivation.”

In this three-game run that you are on, is this the most consistent the offense has been since you’ve been here?
AD: “It is the best we’ve done consistently. There are times in games, like last week, when we came out flat in the third quarter, but we’ve done a good job. We’ve been able to get up early on and keep being balanced offensively. We have to keep scoring early on and get up quick on teams.”

You guys have done a lot of no-huddle offense early on in games. How much has that helped you jump on teams early?
AD: “It’s big. Establish the tempo of the game and mix different things in. Sometimes we huddle and sometimes we don’t. With some of that stuff, it is getting us into a good play and giving us a chance to succeed.”

On Mohamed Sanu’s first TD catch last week, did you guys catch them off-guard a little bit?
AD: “We got the look where it was one-on-one out there. Mo (Sanu) did a good job of making the play in that situation. They had a bunch of guys to the right side, and I had a chance to take that shot.”

You seemed to catch them with the quick snap:
AD: “Yeah. It’s something you have to do. You have to mix tempos and cadences. We were able to do that on that play.”

You’ve been very successful of late in the red zone, converting 11 TDs in your last 13 red-zone chances. And when you’re down there, you seem to be putting the pass in tight windows. Is accuracy – particularly red-zone accuracy – something you pride yourself on?
AD: “Accuracy. There’s not as much room down there. You want to be able to score touchdowns and not field goals. We’ve done a real good job during that stretch, and hopefully that doesn’t change. We have to keep building on that.”

What has made Mohamed Sanu so good in the red zone?
AD: “He has a good feel for the game and what we’re trying to do. He’s got a big body and is a talented guy. He’s kind of moving around and letting natural ability show.”

Is he one of those classic ‘gamers’ who doesn’t necessarily light it up in practice but excels in games?
AD: “He’s got such a good feel for the game and different things on game day.”

It looks like there will not be a suspension issued to OT Andrew Whitworth for his role in last Sunday’s fight. Pulling back and looking at that situation in a big-picture sense, what did that mean for you as a young QB? Does that sort of thing cement you as a leader?
AD: “I definitely think so. He plays the game with a lot of passion. To have him stick up for me, it’s good to have teammates like that. I’m glad he wasn’t suspended. He’s one of the leaders on this team, and he decided to take action.”

You have a ‘C’ on your chest now, indicating that you are a team captain. What’s your definition of a captain?
AD: “For this team, I guess they haven’t put C’s on jerseys in a while. For me and Rey (Maualuga) to have the ‘C’ on the jersey, (coach Marvin Lewis) is saying, ‘These are the leaders of the team.’ He challenged us a couple weeks ago and we’ve responded well. It’s a good thing to show that and put the C’s on our jerseys.”

When did you find out you were going to be a permanent captain?
AD: “Ever since he kind of said everything to you all. He challenged us then. I didn’t know I was going to have the ‘C’ on the jersey until we got here for the game. Ever since then, I felt like we were going to be captains for the rest of the season.”

Were you surprised when you came in and saw that on your jersey?
AD: “It’s definitely a cool thing. I’ve been a captain everywhere I’ve been. To earn that and get the respect of the coaches and Marvin, it’s definitely a cool thing.”

How is your mindset different going into this final stretch of games compared to where it was last year at this time?
AD: “Last year we started real fast and then died off a little bit. We had to have everything fall into place for us to make the playoffs. Now if we can take care of our business, we feel like we control our destiny. That’s the biggest thing I’m taking from this.”

Why did you guys fall off last year?
AD: “I don’t think I can put a finger on one thing. For me, it’s another year going through this. Guys understand that we have to play our best. We’re a better team this year than we were last year.”

The NFL season is naturally demanding on rookies:
AD: “It is a grind because you from combine training to offseason to the season. Feels like it is non-stop. It’s good to have some time and look back at the season. I feel like no one is hitting the wall, and we have to continue to play well.”

Did it help that this year was a normal offseason, as opposed to last year, where everything was on the fly?
AD: “I don’t know. It’s nice to have time after the season to relax and get away from things for a while. We just didn’t do enough to win games.”

Do you feel like you had a tired arm at the end of last season?
AD: “I felt like it was a normal season. I threw it a lot in college. I didn’t feel like I was getting tired.”

San Diego’s Qualcomm Stadium is one of the few NFL stadiums you played in while you were in college. What are your memories of playing there?
AD: “Yeah, I’ve played there three times (two regular season and a bowl game). I had some good games there. I know what the stadium looks like (laughs).”


CHARGERS HEAD COACH NORV TURNER (with Cincinnati media)

How have practices and the mood been following the tough loss on Sunday?
NT: “We got started this morning. Obviously when you have a dramatic loss like that, that’s one of your concerns – getting everybody’s attention and getting going. We just got off the field from our walk-through, and we’ll go back out and practice in about an hour. Our guys have done a great job of being resilient and bouncing back. We’ve been able to start games off fast and play well early in games, for the most part. I expect us to do the same thing.”

What teaching points can you take out of the fourth-and-29 play?
NT: “When you break the play down, there’s reasons why he was able to make the run that he did. He made a great run. We had a couple guys that just lost leverage and took bad angles. We’ve been awfully good in those types of situations. We just didn’t get it done on that play.”

You’ve been hit hard by injuries at safety and offensive line:
NT: “Yeah, we have. That’s more of late. The offensive line thing with Jared Gaither throughout the year has been a big deal to us. With (Atari) Bigby getting hurt this week, that’s going to take a toll. But it does provide some other guys opportunities to play.”

Chargers LS Mike Windt, a Cincinnati native and University of Cincinnati alum, was recently placed on IR. Seems like a tough break for someone who has been coming along for you:
NT: “Yeah, he is. He’s come in and been a big part of our team and really done a nice job for us. We were fortunate we were able to find a guy who could handle it.”

Nobody is more competitive than Philip Rivers, and he has been very productive throughout his career, but he has struggled with INTs and fumbles this year. Is that a product of lack of supporting cast, lack of protection, or something else?
NT: “You can spend a lot time trying to narrow it down and say it’s one thing. When you’re going good and rolling and having success, there’s a lot of reasons you’re having success. We played the game out here in 2009 and kicked the field goal late in the game (to win). I went back and looked at that tape and stat sheet, and Vincent Jackson had 100 yards receiving and (Darren) Sproles had key plays on third down in critical situations. Malcom (Floyd) contributed and had five catches. So there’s a lot of reasons you’re successful. That was a three-point game, where we kicked a field goal with five seconds left. We needed every contribution like what he had.

“Philip has covered for us a lot over the last three years. In 2010, he completed balls to 17 different receivers. Last year, we played 13 different offensive linemen. He’s held it together, and at some point it’s going to take a toll. There are some plays I know Philip would like to have back, like there’s some calls that I would like to have back from when you’re calling the game. You’re in the middle of a game and you’re trying to win it. There’s no question the pressure that he’s under, in terms of the rush. Then you’re in games that every single play adds up big. It does take a toll.”

How has Ryan Matthews’s development been?
NT: “I think he’s been good. He missed the first couple of games, so he got off to a little bit of a slower start than you’d like. Some of it is like our season has gone. When you’re in a game and it’s a close game, when you’re in a game that you’re ahead, when you feel like you’re in pretty good shape, you can play it a little different than what we have. Again, you talk about Philip and the offensive line situations we’ve been in. Obviously, if you have changes in the offensive line and have situations like we’ve had, it’s going to take a toll on the running back also.”

All of the losses, like the loss of Jared Gaither, seem to add up, don’t they?
NT: “I think so. It comes back to you, because I’ve watched those games (2009 and ’10 against Cincinnati), and we were pretty solid there on the left side with (Kris) Dielman and Marcus McNeil, particularly when they were both completely healthy in 2009. Protecting that blind side does help your quarterback be great.”

From what you’ve seen, how different is this Bengals team from the one you faced a couple years ago?
NT: “The thing that jumps out at me is that they’re very athletic. Defensively, they play very fast. They’re obviously extremely well-coached and just solid in everything they do. Offensively, the biggest thing is they’re very, very explosive, and they’re capable of making big plays. They’ve got balance. I really like the quarterback (Andy Dalton), watching his development and what he’s doing. When you’ve got the great receiver on the outside, you just have to account for him, and it does open up a lot of other things.”

As an offensive-minded coach, how big of a factor is DT Geno Atkins?
NT: “He’s really impressive. He gets a lot of double-teams and he is still having an awful lot of success. People get caught up in the numbers of sacks. I look at the plays – the disruptive plays and the plays that he makes it very difficult on an offense. The front four, they’re playing at an extremely high level. Mike (defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer) does as good a job with those guys and presents problems for offenses.”

Over the past couple of games, the Bengals secondary has seemed to mesh. Is that more because of what the front-seven can do, or is it because they are so experienced?
NT: “I think the latter. As you go through a season, you watch teams grow and get better and get comfortable and they’re all on the same page. You look over the last month, they’ve played awfully well.”

Your secondary is playing pretty well too – you’ve had a few pick-sixes. Is that more because of the number of tipped balls you’re getting, or does it have a lot to do with scheme?
NT: “We’ve gotten some big plays and we have gotten some tipped balls. Guys are doing their preparation and they’re making plays. Some of that is, as I said, that ball bounces funny, and we’ve had some good bounces back there and have taken advantage of it.”

Eric Weddle is a big part of your defense, with 10 INTs in the last year and a half. With his concussion, is he day-to-day?
NT: “I’m hopeful for Eric, and he feels good. The good news is I always want to get a reading the day after. And Monday he was outstanding – really had no symptoms. That’s a good sign there, and he’s doing fine. Hopefully he’ll be out there and doing what he does.”

How frustrating of year has it been?
NT: “It’s been hard. It’s been hard on everybody. We go through stretches where we play awfully well, we just have a tough time sustaining it. You want to be able to find a way to play a complete game and eliminate the bad, negative plays, but we haven’t been able to do it.”

What has Takeo Spikes meant to your team?
NT: “He’s awesome. You coach in this league and you get to be around some very unique individuals. He’s one of the tops for me. Fifteen-year vet that plays like he’s 25 and loves the game. He loves everything about it – the locker room, the preparation, the contact, the competition. He’s like I said, you start listing guys that you feel like you’re fortunate to have coached or been on the same team with, he’s right up there with some awfully good players within my mind.”


CHARGERS LB TAKEO SPIKES (with Cincinnati media)

Marvin Lewis was saying that looking at you on tape, you seems to be playing well:
TS: “It’s been good. Progressively, not only myself, but we’ve gotten better. Looking from last year, or even from week to week, defensively we’ve gotten better collectively.”

He said he regrets that he didn’t work harder to keep you here in Cincinnati. Do you have any regrets?
TS: “No, I don’t have any regrets. It’s part of the process. I think what happened was supposed to happen, not only there, but continuing throughout my years. I will tell you this: When people ask me if I have any regrets from being in Cincinnati, I tell them ‘no,’ because I truly think that made me the player and the person that I am today. It taught me a lot of things – just camaraderie and understanding people at an early age. Understanding we’re all the same, but we’re all different. I’ve taken a lot of my life lessons on and off the field from Cincy and just kind of taken them everywhere I’ve been.”

Is there anybody in particular you learned those lessons from?
TS: “Dick LeBeau in particular. I look at Mark Duffner. He was very instrumental in my growth period. Willie Anderson, Vaughn Booker. Back then, you had to take the good with the bad and the bad with the good. Unfortunately it was more bad than good. But I’m still tight with those guys.”

Did it ever get ugly?
TS: “Yeah. What we went through last week was the ugly.”

What about that fourth-and-29 play?
TS: “I’ve seen a lot of games. As long as you continue to have birthdays, you won’t be surprised. It was just guys taking poor angles to the ball carrier. That’s what I saw. You get a lot of people that want to ‘Monday morning quarterback,’ and I don’t even bother to talk to them because they don’t even matter anyway. One of the main questions I’ve had people ask me is, ‘Why didn’t you have anybody underneath?’ Well, it’s fourth-and-29, why would we? You have to be accountable and take responsibility. As you look back at it, I thought we had a good call, but we took some bad angles. And you can’t leave it in the officials’ hands. I learned to know that by playing in Cincy. When you don’t win a lot of games and you think a call could be questionable, you’re not going to get those calls. You’re not.”

Have you talked to Brian Simmons at all?
TS: “Yeah, I talk to Brian probably once a month. Just checking in on him. He’s working his way up in Jacksonville. I told him when he gets the GM job, I’ll be ready to be his assistant GM.”

Are you surprised what’s happened here in Cincinnati since you left?
TS: “No. They’ve had their ups and downs. More recently, in the past two or three years, from what I’ve seen, Cincinnati has always had good players in there. I think you really have a good coaching staff that’s coming along. They’re developing the players and guys are taking ownership after Carson (Palmer) left.”

Where was the best stop for you, in terms of most things being in place?
TS: “Looking at it on paper even before you play a snap, I would probably say Buffalo and here in San Diego.”

Why hasn’t it clicked in San Diego?
TS: “I know when I got here, the year before I got here, they missed the playoffs. And I know people talked about (Darren) Sproles not being here and those things. It was the special teams where they had a lot of blocked punts. When I got here, they had been up and down. Every team goes through streaks where everybody's going through (tough) parts of the season. And that really tells how good of a football team you are, the faster that you're able to get out of it. As I look at your guys' record, I think you lost four in a row and now you've come back around and won the last (three). It's just ruts, man. It's ruts.”

How frustrating is it to have not played in the playoffs? Do you think about it much?
TS: “Not now. I'm just trying to get a game. The goal around here is to just win one. After you get one, then you can worry about putting a streak together. It's frustrating. I can't say that's what we all play for. I know that's what I've been playing for ever since I came in – just to have a chance to play for the ring. That's been one of my biggest goals.”

Is that why you keep playing?
TS: “Yeah. I'm addicted. I'm an addict.”

Are you afraid you might not ever make it?
TS: “No. As crazy as it may sound to you, I'm going to make it. I don't know how, but I'm going to get there.”

If you don't and this was your last year for whatever reason, would you be content with your career?
TS: “I'll tell you the biggest thing, I think you know me, I never even give a second thought in my mind to think if I don't make it. And I think that's what makes me so different than everybody else. I am Mr. Optimistic. So, I understand. In order for us to have a chance to play for a wild card, we have to win out. But we have to start with this one game right here. So that's my mindset. We have to go in and win this game. And that's what I'm preaching to the rest of the guys. Until we're mathematically out, that's another story.”

Are you still doing Thanksgiving for your teammates?
TS: “The last time I did it was in San Francisco. I haven’t done it out here. I tell you, the guy who has kind of taken over the reins for than is Aubrayo Franklin. His mom comes up and cooks a big dinner. But I haven’t done it. I don’t get the barbeque raccoon imported in. Now I get the chitlins. I’ve got to have those. My momma brought some chitlins out here so I was good.”

You were a team leader here in Cincinnati. Did you see what happened last Sunday here against the Raiders, where OT Andrew Whitworth got in a fight to protect his QB?
TS: “No, I didn’t see it. I still haven’t seen it. When you’re not collecting too many wins, you’re not too quick to turn on SportsCenter or anything like that.”

Is Philip Rivers as competitive as he seems? He seems like the type of player who will fight to the final snap:
TS: “Yeah, he will, man. When I look at Philip, I see the same similarities – a guy that just wants to win. He loves the opportunity just to compete. That’s what it’s all about. You want somebody on your team, whether they’ve got talent or not, that I know is going to go to bat and fight their ass off every time.”

What do you think of the Bengals offense?
TS: “They’re a very good offense. When I look at them, they do a lot of things. I haven’t played them in so long. I remember Chad (Johnson), I remember T.J. (Houshmandzadeh), and then there was Chris Henry. It’s still a similar offense with the vertical passing game. You’ve got A.J. (Green) – he’s a beast. God, he’s a beast. Then there’s Andy (Dalton). That’s what sticks out to me. My entire career, even when I was in Cincy, we never had a quarterback. If I look at Cincy, I always see who’s the guy with the ball in his hands the most, and to see what he’s been able to come in there and do it speaks volumes. You can tell he works at it. He really leads that offense. Whether it’s a check-with-me at the line of scrimmage or him reading coverages, he gets it, and lot of players don’t get it.”

Your offensive line has been banged up:
TS: “That’s a fair assessment. I’ve been going through that for the past two years. I don’t say it as a knock to the guys that we have, but I think we all know it’s hard to have stability, it’s hard for 17 (Rivers) to be able to do what he does when you don’t have that mainstay, that core, right in front of you. It’s just hard. It’s equivalent to a linebacker. I felt like I went through that last year with our D-line.”

Marvin Lewis says he has gotten to know you better over the years:
TS: “We kind of run into each other at different functions and stuff and we always talk. We always have the talks ‘what if?’ The 'if' talks are always good, now. They’re always good. I’ve never had an 'if' talk that was bad.”


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