Posted: 11:15 a.m.
AdamsSam Adams says his defense can't back down. So on Friday as he strapped up his sore knee for its one weekly practice, Adams didn't back down.
"I take the blame; put it on my shoulders," Adams said. "I haven't played well enough for us to stop the run. I plan on doing something about that this week."
There have been 154 NFL starts, three Pro Bowls and two AFC titles, and if the Bengals defensive tackle is taking blame he's also taking notes.
"We have to develop a little bit of a nasty attitude on defense; we can't back down from anything," Adams said. "We have to go out and punch them in the mouth. Teams said they're going to run it on us and they ran it on us. We've got to take that personally and I think we have."
Adams knows it wasn't supposed to happen when he signed on back in April. The Steelers ran for 170 yards and two weeks ago the Patriots pummeled the Bengals for 236 more. He also knows what Tampa Bay is going to try and do Sunday. After running back Cadillac Williams had nowhere to go in his first three games, the ride smoothed out last week against New Orleans with 111 yards on 20 carries.
"They'll try to run it on us," Adams said, and his panacea is simple.
"Start a fight, punch them in the mouth."
The 360-pound Adams is big enough to take the blame, even though his knee is hurt. "It takes 11 to be good," he says. There is also some debate about just how effective Adams has been, given all the talk in the Back Seven about run fits, lack of tackling, and missed assignments.
The difference between what the Bengals did in the first two games against the run and what they did in the last two weeks, one school of thought says is more of a reflection on the injuries at linebacker and safety instead of Adams and the front line.
But this isn't his first rodeo. This is his fifth NFL stop and wherever he's been when the offense runs, the defensive line gets blamed. And he knows he's not producing at the high standard he's set for himself.
"I've played all right; steady," Adams said. "I haven't done anything. I've been invisible and it makes me mad. I haven't made many plays, I haven't made any tackles, so I have to do something about that.
"No one is doing their job if people are running more than 200 yards against you. It's a mentality. There are a lot of great players that have to really step up, and I'm one of them. I have to step up and play better."
Adams' solution is to keep playing. After head coach Marvin Lewis sentenced him to the first month of training camp with strength and conditioning coaches Chip Morton and Ray Oliver, Adams came back in fine form. But he also hurt his knee in his first preseason game Aug. 28 against Green Bay and he says he'll need arthroscopic knee surgery in the offseason because "It swelled up on me and I tore something loose in there," he said.
"I've got to work through it," Adams said. "Can't let the boys down, there's too much riding on it, and I'd be out too long."
Adams hopes he can start practicing regularly in the next few weeks instead of just on Fridays. It's in that venue and in the locker room where his impact can't be debated. Domata Peko, the tackle who has been one of the Bengals' most effective rookies, makes sure he listens to anything and anyone so he can learn as much as he can.
(Note as he intently watches every interview locker neighbor Bryan Robinson does with a mass media.)
"He's teaching me new techniques I didn't know," Peko said of Adams. "And what tendencies to look for. Formations, things like that. He knows a lot of blocks. He already knows what block is coming out after him. He's encouraging me to watch a lot of film."
Sunday is Adams' 155th start. He has been here before.
But the Bengals haven't. When was the last time they got rolled on the ground like that and a defensive player challenged himself and the rest of his unit to take off the gloves?
"Start a fight," he said. "But I won't get thrown out of the game.
"We want to make a name for ourselves. In order to do that we have to go out and prove it and be men about it."