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Bengals Notebook: Secondary Regroups Again As Jessie Bates Bounces Back

Jessie Bates III bounced back up Sunday.
Jessie Bates III bounced back up Sunday.

So just once in the last 30 games the Bengals have had their starting cornerbacks on the field and when Trae Waynes grabbed his hamstring on the last snap of the 30th game last Sunday, it looks like it's going to be quite a few more games and the Opening Day tandem of Chidobe Awuzie and Eli Apple are the guys for the foreseeable future.

But the Bengals dodged a bullet on that play when free safety Jessie Bates III also went down in a heap after he collided with Packers wide receiver Randall Cobb. And he had just returned from the only game he's ever missed.

"I got the wind knocked out of me, it was pretty scary after I saw it when I got home," Bates said before Wednesday's practice. "I walked up to my suite and my mom was crying. It sucked and was scary. Playing a physical game of football, that's going to happen. Thank God I got out of that game."

There's been a lot talk this week about this Sunday's foe in winless Detroit (1 p.m.-Cincinnati's Channel 19) being frustrated and angry. Well, there's a lot of that going around the Bengals locker room, too, in the wake of that last oh-so close play against the Packers.

They know how the only quarterback that probably could have competed that last pass for 15 yards to set up the winning field goal in overtime was probably the guy that threw it.

You think edge rusher Trey Hendrickson is frustrated? He had just sacked Aaron Rodgers out of field goal range and was about to do it again on third down with an arm in Rodgers' face. But the Bengals D-Line is still shaking its head on how Rodgers back-pedaled and contorted his body to somehow muscle it to Cobb.

And that's just the half of it.

"We were double-teaming the guy with 206 yards receiving on 3rd and 20," Bates said of Packers wide receiver Davante Adams. "I took myself out in the middle of the field on 17 (Adams) and thought that's where the ball was going. My eyes went back to Aaron Rodgers and I saw Trey in his face. I saw the ball, I did not see Cobb. He ran into me. It's a game of inches. If you see the replay my arm was in there. It was the same thing as those kicks, it's a game of inches."

And then you have to wonder, too, if Waynes didn't get hurt during the play, is he also in better position?

So, yeah, the Bengals are steaming, too. This is the NFL. Everybody has problems. Even after Wednesday's practice Bates was fuming, still not knowing how it was possible the ball didn't hit his arm.

But Bates is also thankful. Everyone knows he's in a contract year.

"I wouldn't say scared." Bates said of his situation. "Obviously that comes into talks, you want to be able to play because you don't know what can happen at any point of the game. I pray every night before I go to bed, I know I'm protected by the man upstairs. It'll work out like I said at the beginning of the summer. I don't change that mindset at all."

LIONS AFTER TIGERS AND BEARS: The Bengals lost to the Bears, beat the Jags and now here come the snarling 0-5 Lions. They played so hard in last Sunday's 19-17 loss to the Minnesota Vikings that they brought head coach Dan Campbell to tears.

Bengals head coach Zac Taylor, who coached with Campbell in Miami, gets all that.

"There's so much work that's put in, and when you just see the guys that are working for you and doing the things that you are asking them to do and you're just coming up that short, you hurt for those guys," Taylor said. "Very relatable experience. It's why those guys will play hard for him, because he means it. I've been in meetings where he has spoken to teams and been in locker rooms he's given speeches in and I'd follow that guy in a heartbeat. I have, and the guys in that locker room will as well."

There's a lot of crossover coaching in this one with old Rams and Dolphins guys from Taylor's previous tenures. No one doubts Campbell, a former tight end who played in 114 games but never one against the Bengals, is going to have a physical team.

"They might be doing the Oklahoma drill in their team meeting. Dan's got that physical mentality. And that shows up," Taylor said. "This is not an 0-5 football team when you turn on the tape. This is a team that's going to fight tooth and nail. They're not going to give you an inch."

And there are plenty of Bengals who look at the OT loss last Sunday and the three-point loss in Chicago and know they could be 5-0 or, at the very least, 4-1, and that's got them motivated, too.

"I would say the main thing is going to be the sense of urgency to come out and start fast with this team," Bates said. "I've been part of an 0-5 team and it's not fun when you keep losing and then a team comes in and starts off kind of fast on you. You kind of think, 'Hey, same thing has happened over again,' so like I said, their coach does a really good job of keeping their mindset right, and they don't show that often, but I think the sense of urgency and the focus on the details will be key and that comes from the leaders on this team."