Posted: 4 p.m.
“The guys who probably won’t play in the (New England) game will be Ben Utecht, Dan Santucci, Pernell Phillips and David Jones, at this point. There are some guys who we will see where they are as the week goes on. Matt Sherry is one of those guys. Carson (Palmer) has a mild to moderate high-ankle sprain, so we will see how he goes through the week. Brad St. Louis is dealing with a little bit of turf toe. Dan Coats’ ankle is sore. Fui Vakapuna has a sore knee, but should be able to go. We should get Evan Mathis, Rey Maualuga and Brandon Johnson back this week. So that is where we are health-wise.
Another thing to note is that we are in the process of signing two tight ends, JP Foschi, and Kola Kapanui. They’ll be out there at practice with us today.
Looking at the game from last week, other than the final score and not winning the football game, I was pleased with some areas. We did a good job up front, both in the running game and protection-wise. We had an opportunity to make some big plays on offense that we didn’t make. We made a couple (of big plays), but we had some other opportunities, like the first play of the game, where we need to make those plays. Defensively, the starting group did a nice job. We need to build upon that this week. The disappointing areas were the penalties on offense and special teams, we had one facemask penalty on defense for careless hands that you don’t want to have. So we need to improve in that area. We need to score offensively, but for the first preseason game, when you look at the first offensive group out there, not many of those guys were starters a year ago. If we take care of the football, we have an opportunity to score points, and we need to do that. So those are the highs and lows.
Moving on to New England, they are a physical football team. They try to jump up on you on defense. They have some experience on their football team, and it has been a very successful team. They have a lot of key elements still there. They present different looks offensively, defensively and on special teams, so it will be a good challenge. What we saw last week from them was that they were completely different from series to series. They like to move guys around, so we need to stay alert and do a good job of identification. That will be the challenge for this week, which is good to have right now with this team, because it keeps the challenge going.”
Q: Last week was the first challenge for the offensive line. As you look at it on tape, did they meet that challenge?
ML: “I felt good about both the running game and protection. They did a good job playing together and being in the right spots. There was a little bit of miscommunication, but overall they did a really good job.”
Q: Will Carson (Palmer) practice today?
ML: “We’ll see. He may do some things and not some of the others, but we will see.”
Q: What did you think of JT O’Sullivan? Did you like the way he stepped up?
ML: “J.T. just played where he was going to play. There was no change in the progression of our quarterbacks. Carson played as long as I expected him to play, then we put J.T. in the game. I liked what J.T. did. He worries about a lot, and we have to get him out of that. That’s really the only negative, he puts a lot on his shoulders. We’ll handle most of that. He can just worry about playing on the field, and we’ll handle a lot of the other things. That’s probably a change from the way he was coached in the past, but a lot of those things are on me and the other coaches to take care of so he can just play quarterback and run the offense.”
Q: You had said Chris Henry played a little bit more in the New Orleans game because he had struggled with dropping some balls. Will he play as much this week?
ML: “We will play some of our guys a little more, and we’ll see how the snaps shake out as we go. Again, I don’t sit here and tell you guys how many (snaps) they are going to play. What I tell them is they’ll play until I take them out.”
Q: You guys break camp after today. Is there a way to assess where you are compared to where you wanted to be at this time when you got to camp?
ML: “It’s really not ‘breaking’ camp. We’re leaving (Georgetown), but training camp isn’t over. I don’t really ever look at it that way. It’s a change because we go back to a different venue, but we’re still going to have training camp next week. I don’t want the players to think we are out of training camp. We’re still going to meet at night and have long days. We are going to reduce some of the work load on the field as we go forward. It’s a good time for that, and for them to get their legs back under them. It’s been a very cool camp down here. It’s not been as hot as it’s been in past years, so we might keep pushing on some of the work.”
Q: Coach Jonathan Hayes said he was pleased with the aggressiveness Daniel Coats showed. Would you agree?
ML: “I think Daniel did some things better than he’s ever done here for us. He’s got to keep working at it, keep a base, and just keep working. We’re pleased with some of the things that came out of that position. It was Chase Coffman’s first opportunity to play NFL football, and he fared pretty well. He’s going to learn every time he takes a snap. He’s smart, and he is a guy who can do that.”
Q: With Andre Smith still out, does there come a point where he has almost created a lost season for himself and can’t make up what he has missed, or will he be able to come in and get up to speed with everything rather quickly?
ML: “That’s the way it goes. This has happened somewhere every year like this. That’s just part of life as a draft pick in the NFL. You just have to make do and move forward. When he gets signed, he’ll work at getting up to speed as quickly as he can, and we’ll look at where he will fit best.”
Q: As far as offensive lineman in general, can you compare how easy it is for them to catch up, compared with players at other positions?
ML: “I don’t know if it’s easier or takes any longer. It’s more of an individual thing. It’s a player, it’s a position and every day there are things that happen that we wish he were here for. He’s not here, so there’s no way you can make up this time, but when he gets here, we will move forward.”
Q: What did you see out of Bernard Scott in New Orleans?
ML: “Bernard did a good job of creating runs and staying in the runs. When he could, he created a couple of opportunities. He’s got to keep going, and we’ll keep working at him and looking at him to see where his best niche is. We’ll see what we can do offensively when he’s in the game. Overall, I was pleased with what Bernard did.”
Q: Is it possible that Brian Leonard will get more time at the spot Bernard Scott did on Friday?
ML: “We’re going to play all three guys and all five backs, whatever we have. It’ll just be a matter of when I tell them to change one guy out.”
Q: Was the segment from Hard Knocks with Mike Brown in the meeting room a fair representation, or has it been taken out of context?
ML: “It’s a personnel meeting, and Mikes serves as the general manager, so it’s his meeting. When we had a meeting in Baltimore, Ozzie (Newsome) would run the meeting. It’s about personnel. In Pittsburgh, Tom Donahoe ran the meeting. There’s nothing that we do that Mike and I have not already discussed prior to the personnel meeting. From my understanding, too much is being made out of that particular scene. It’s a positive thing, because he wants to hear about how the players are doing, and he can’t judge the mental part by watching tape. If the coaches rate the players one-through-five, he wants to hear that. It provides an opportunity for the coaches to express themselves.”
Q: So this process is not unique to the Bengals; you have experienced it elsewhere?
ML: “I’ve experienced it every place that I have been.”
Q: Have you gotten a lot of feedback from the first episode of Hard Knocks (positive or negative)?
ML: “I really don’t care one way or the other. The people from NFL films are pleased with what their feedback has been, and how it’s gone. They feel good about.”
Q: With Carson missing the majority of last season, do you need to see him play more in the preseason than you normally would?
ML: “Carson takes a lot of snaps in practice. He likes to play and he wants to keep working, so we’ll see how it goes. I don’t want to get into one way or another. We’ll see how his ankle feels. Just the fact he’s got a sprained ankle, I would have adjusted his play time this week, because I don’t want it to get fatigued while he’s in there. That’s why I went ahead and brought J.T. in there (just before) the change of the quarter last week.”