BENGALS POSTGAME QUOTES
AUG. 9, 2018
CHICAGO AT CINCINNATI
Initial Comments ...
"Tonight is evident why you have the opportunity to play these preseason games. To have the young players play, and for them to have the chance to play when the game is on the line like that, was very cool for them at the end. And to be able to make plays and get back to having a (competitive) game and finish it out.
"There are lot of things to coach from this game, as we'd figured — at the beginning of the game, we basically have a penalty on defense which extends a drive, but we get the stop and those guys come back and get a three-and-out. So it's a good start to things. We're going to have some young players play, and getting them in there (for) meaningful football was good. We'll continue to do that the rest of the preseason.
"With the offense, again, I thought the rhythm was good. The thing that will be interesting to look at is where we were in the running game early on the game. We created a couple spaces in the second drive, but nothing in the first touchdown drive, or at least not as much as we need to. Obviously, we were having the opportunity (to pass), so they must have been crowding the box to get the ball pushed down the field as Andy did.
"The positives, other than the turnover — we weren't great on that route, and that happens, so it's another learning lesson. The other thing is just we had a couple special teams penalties with young guys, and they make an impact in the game. (These are) good things to coach from, and I'm really pleased with the opportunity to get guys playing in there and them having a good (game) tape now."
John Ross came in and had a nice catch in the first half. Was that impressive to you?
"John is like a rookie out there, so it's great. He just has to be keep playing."
Obviously offensive coordinator Bill Lazor called plays last year, and now defensive coordinator Teryl Austin is calling plays. How did the communication work with the play calling from your view?
"There's no middle man. Teryl has the vision, and that what he's comfortable doing and that's where he's been."
Any hesitation about showing that fake punt in a preseason game?
"It's basically (about) the look (of the defense). Clayton (Fejedelem) has the look, and in that situation he makes the call. I wasn't even paying attention. It wasn't a call we made from the sideline or anything — that's what he's coached to do all the time if he has the opportunity. You don't run a fake to run a fake; you run a fake because of the look (of the defense). You don't go in the game and do that. That's not how it's done. I wasn't even looking; I was looking for Kevin (Huber's) ball up in the air (laughs). I want to see Kevin get the ball in that situation. I wanted to flip field position, and we did (albeit) a different way."
You've got a lot of different receivers you want to look at in camp. It seems like Cody Core didn't get targeted much tonight ...
"It depends on the coverage. With the quarterback, he got a lot of snaps, but you can't control the coverage and where it ends up at times."
Auden Tate had a prime example on his touchdown tonight of what he's done in camp — just throwing the ball near him and letting him make something out of it. You had to be impressed by what you saw ...
"Yeah. As you said — he's shown every opportunity he's had. You've got to feel good about that, and I think everybody's got to take notice."
You said you like getting the young guys in for the playing time, but for many of them this is their livelihood on the line. Do you still enjoy this aspect of the preseason?
"It's what it's all about. It's fun. It's great to see our young guys go out and play. It's great to see Joe (Mixon) have a play like that (touchdown). It's great to see John (Ross) make guys miss. That's what our lifeblood is — these guys and their athleticism. And Mark Walton. For them to make the guys miss in the open field, that's why we have them. CJ Uzomah kind of picked up where he left off last year, and he had very important catches tonight to keep the drives alive and keep the chains moving. So there were a lot of good things there like that, and we've just got to keep going. Like on (Carl) Lawson's hustle on the backside tonight, the quarterback broke the pocket and Carl chased him down from behind — that's what it's all about."
Is there any update on Vincent Rey's injury?
"They talked about taping him (up) and having him come back (in the game), but I said that's not necessary (laughs). He has a sprained ankle, so hopefully it's nothing that keeps him out very long. But I'm well aware of what Vinny Rey can do."
How nice was it to start in moving the ball?
"It's what we wanted to do. We wanted to be efficient, we wanted to kind of spread the ball around and get a lot of guys involved, and we did that. We marched the ball down the field twice and ended with touchdowns. That's what we wanted to do."
From what you've seen in practices, did you expect to move the ball like that with the first real live action?
"Yes. I think we just go out there and play like we are supposed to play and play like we can play. I mean, that's what it's going to look like. I thought for the first time being out there going against a new team, I thought we did a lot of good things. It's what you want to do to start if off in the preseason."
It appeared, and it's just three possessions in the first quarter, it seemed like the rhythm was there with the offense and everyone was getting a good grasp of the offense ...
"I think everybody understands what we were trying to do. I didn't feel like we had a ton of offense in, either. It's how these preseason games go. There's not a whole lot of game planning that's going into it. Obviously, you have a day or so, a couple days of it. I thought for the most part guys understood what we were doing and it showed with scoring as quickly as we did."
How did it feel or look for the new guys up front? You have a couple guys trying to win jobs ...
"I was comfortable back there. I thought they did a good job. There weren't any negative plays with it. I think we jumped offsides one time — we obviously don't want that. I thought our guys up front played well."
You had the catch and run by A.J. Green and Joe Mixon. I imagine that's the idea and that's what you would like and there was the touchdown by Tyler Boyd. The skill guys really showed today ...
"Yeah, we've been seeing it all camp and now it's putting it out there against a different team."
John Ross had the unfortunate slip but came back with a 20-yard catch. Is there anything that you say to him in that situation?
"Yeah, we never want the slip. Obviously it's unfortunate but I came right back to him and he made a great play and made a couple guys miss. I thought he was going to get in the end zone but they had a good pursuit on him. He's a special player. I think he's going to make a lot of plays for this offense."
It's a preseason game, but talk about going back down after the interception and what that does for the cohesiveness of the offense ...
"I think that's just playing the game of football. You can't let one play affect the next. Obviously we had a negative play that gave them points, but nobody flinched. We went right back out there and drove it right down the field and scored. That's how you have to play this game. You can't let the last play affect the next one."
You've been through a lot of these preseasons now. What have you learned in terms of preparation that you may be doing a little different this year?
"Like I said, there's not a whole lot of game-planning that goes into these preseason games, especially the first one. For me, you've got to get an idea of what they're doing and I think for me since I've been going at this for a while, I understand how different defenses play. I think that's just one of those things. You're able to react a lot quicker because you know the different styles of defense and what they're going do."
Were you able to talk with Matt (Barkley) at all about how he was doing in the game?
"I was talking to every player throughout the game. I thought everybody played well. I thought all units moved the ball well. Matt and Jeff (Driskel) did some really good things."
What did you think of Auden Tate?
"He's got some of the best hands, and it shows. Jeff did a great job getting out of the pocket and moving around and for him to get open and make a touchdown catch like that, that was a good one. I think the better catch was the one on the pass interference, and he also had the diving catch that they called offensive pass interference. I don't know — I'll have to look at that. He's got some unbelievable hands and it seems like every ball that comes his way he's going to come down with it."
How do you think you played today?
"Okay. I don't think it was good enough. It's Game 1 though. You'll have games like that. I've got a lot of things to work on."
What happened on that slip on the INT?
"I lost my feet — terrible job by me. It was a perfect ball by Andy, I just fell."
What does it do to your confidence when Andy Dalton goes right back to you after a mistake?
"Very good. He does that all that time. Even in practice, it'll happen to anyone. Andy always comes back to us."
That one in the end-zone, it looked like you were trying to get your foot in ...
"I have to work on that."
A lot of wideouts made catches today. That's a lot of competition ...
"There's definitely a lot of competition. It's been like that since day one. We all have to bring it, knowing the (receivers) room will be like that. Everybody is great as teammates, but it's serious completion."
Does it feel different from last season?
"I'm not really going back to last season."
The first TD drive showed the offensive potential. Would you agree?
"We have a lot of talented players, and a lot of guys that can go make plays or stretch the field. We have a very good offense and just need to keep putting it together."
Did you see Auden Tate's touchdown catch?
"I did. We all think he's a freak. His catch radius is ridiculous, and he can go get the ball better than anyone I know. We knew it was coming, even the defense. As soon as 19 went in, we all tilted our heads and looked."
Does this win mean something?
"Yes. It's a start for all of us. I had a catch tonight, and a few targets. Josh Malone had a good game. Tyler Boyd had a touchdown, A.J. Green is himself. It's a good start for everyone going into next game."
How big was it for John Ross when Andy Dalton went back to him after he slipped on the INT?
"It helps John every day. I told him he may not be happy about plays like that every day. You just have to let stuff like that go."
How impressive was Joe Mixon's touchdown?
"He's a different breed. He's a rare blend of talent, size, hands, and speed. We see that every day at practice."
How do you think the offense played today?
"I think we did some good things. We have some stuff to work on of course. It was a good start for the first game."
What about you personally?
"I didn't play much, but there's always something to get better at. We didn't run anything I needed to work on. We looked pretty sharp."
What did you think of Auden Tate's catches?
"We see that every day at practice. He has some of the best hands on the ball I've seen. He's a big strong guy, and it's no surprise."
You were pretty excited on that game-winning drive, cheering everybody on ...
"It was great to see. We have to fight all four quarters."
Was receiving something you worked on in the offseason?
"I was just trying to make a play."
Did you use that spin move much last year?
"Maybe in Madden."
How did the offense feel running the first time?
"It feels good lining up against another team. We've been in camp for two and a half weeks. Going against each other gets a little boring. We had an opportunity today to go against another team, and we won the game. Marvin (Lewis) preached that all week, and we went out there and made plays all four quarters."
How were the holes the lined open up early?
"The holes were there, I just have to keep pressing them. I made a couple of good cuts, and so did Gio Bernard and Tra Carson. The running game was looking pretty good toward the end."
Were you surprised you got called for that penalty?
"My face was up, and I didn't lower my body. I was staring at my guy and hit him from the eyes up. I feel like if there's a loud vicious looking play they'll lean toward flagging it for safety reasons. I was deprived of a good play, but you just have to learn from it."
Was the fake punt something you've worked on?
"We had no intention of running it. I called that on my own. They came out and were missing a man in the box. He was probably on the side drinking some Gatorade. It was a no-brainer to call it, and it worked out great."
How fired up was Darrin after on the sideline?
"He was kind of laughing. That's what we're taught to do. You have to make the most of your opportunities."
What coverage would normally dictate that call?
"There's a lot to factor into it. You'll see teams running with eight in the box, you'll see some with six. It really is predicated on the game flow."
When was the last time you ran the ball?
"The last time I had the ball in my hands was last year in Cleveland, when I got an interception. The last time before that was in college. The only time I carried on offense was in high school."
How much confidence does that last drive give to you?
"We stalled a bit in the second half for various reasons. I felt like we were behind the chains a lot in the second half, but we changed the tempo and put one together. We knew we were going to go out and score a touchdown."
What does that do for your confidence?
"My confidence has always been there. It's good to do it, but I don't think it changes anything."
Auden Tate seems to win a lot of 50-50 balls. What happened on his TD catch?
"The quick pass was on. We were trying to get the ball moving and get it out quick. The defensive backs were sitting on our routes, so I tried to extend the play. I saw Auden get behind the corner. I just threw him one high that he can go get. He's a great target and a great weapon."
It looked like you had good scrambling instincts back there ...
"I don't really have an answer for it — I guess it's instinct. I knew it was time to extend the play. The ball and routes that were intended to be thrown on time were covered. We work on the scramble drill in practice, and it showed up for us in a big way today."
Did the receiving room show its depth tonight?
"It's a great room. There's a bunch of good targets there. It's a competitive group, but it's a group that loves to see each other succeed. That's the good part about it. They're competing with and against each other, but they're also cheering each other on. That's raising everybody else's level of play."
The thing that's been impressive is not just your contested catches, but reaching over people and pulling it away from their possession. You did it again for a game-winning touchdown catch tonight. You transferred it from the practice field to the game field. Take us through that play ...
"It was just an out-route. They got some pressure and I saw (Jeff) Driskel scrambling. After that I just scrambled and went to the fade, and he just gave me a chance. I just went up for it."
Have you worked on what the responsibilities are during a scramble drill? Is it about making adjustments, or is it just football instincts?
"It's a little bit of both. Coach has definitely stressed running the play until the quarterback is out of the pocket, but it's also about when you're out there playing you just try to make a play. So it's a little bit of both."
You drew a defensive pass interference that was offset by a hands to the face, and then you had an offensive pass interference called on you, and then you make the play. What's going through your mind during that roller coaster?
"It was kind of crazy. First the fade ball, and I couldn't see it. Then the play I get the catch and there were flags. And then another catch and I get a flag. It just all worked out good, though."
What's they key to making those contested catches?
"I'll just say having strong hands and practicing. We practice drills every day — catching between the bags and getting hit while we're catching it — so it kind of sets us up well for the game for all of the receivers."
The receiver room is young and very competitive, and you all want to step up and make plays. You've got to feel good about the opportunities you took advantage of tonight...
"Yeah, definitely. If you look at it, a lot of receivers were making plays today. I think it makes us better. Receivers were making a lot of plays — play after play too. I just think all of us doing good all at one time just makes us better players."
You owned the red-zone in your college career at Florida State. Are you looking to own the red zone in the NFL?
In the first preseason game of your NFL career, you get a game-winning TD. That's pretty special isn't it?
"Yeah, it's definitely kind of surreal at the moment. It hasn't really hit me yet. I'm just getting ready for practice coming up and getting ready for the next preseason game."
Have you checked your cell phone yet? Do you have any messages waiting for you?
"Not yet, I just need to get these pads off first."
Hopkins at the right guard position, Hart at the right tackle position. How'd it go for you guys tonight?
Hopkins: "It went pretty good. There's definitely some stuff I want to clean up, some stuff I know I need to improve on. I'll see it on the tape. It felt good going out there and getting the rust off and actually going into a live game. It's been a while."
Bobby, what about you?
Hart: "I feel the same way. Like he said, we'll watch it on tape. There's definitely some things that you want to clean up and get on the same accord, so going into the season we can just be on one accord and just working well together."
You guys were in tandem together during the mock game. That's close to football, but it's not real football yet. Getting out there and communicating with the unspoken calls is big, isn't it?
Hopkins: "Yes it is. It definitely is. That's part of just growing and getting to know playing next to Bobby, and him getting to know how I think and things like that. You get to a point, like you said, where you have a call. But then you get to a level where I know where his eyes are and he knows where my eyes are, and there's certain things you don't have time to communicate, but we'll be confident in each other saying the same thing. That's what you get in these preseason games — getting more snaps next to each other."
Both of you guys have tremendously long arms and good feet. Has that always been a big strength of yours, Bobby?
Hart: "Yeah, definitely. Just being able to continue to grow at the things you don't do well is kind of the biggest thing for me. You say that I have long arms and good feet, but it's the small details that you want to hone in on and become a master of so you can be a complete player."
On the interception, what did you see? It looked like it just came right at you ...
"The preseason is about making the team, right? So every chance I get to make a play, that's the goal. I preach at practice, 'Make plays, make plays.' I want a spot on this team, so every time I can make a play that's what I want to do. Just go out there and do what coach said, and put me in a good position and execute."
Is it one of those things where he throws it right to you and it's just about catching it, right?
"Yeah it's just using the techniques that coach teaches me every day. It worked today, so I'm just going to continue to listen to what coach is preaching. All the other guys keep emphasizing it at practice, because that's what practice is for. You can't make big plays unless you practice it. That's what guys — defensive coordinator, DB coach — emphasize, is making plays. That's been my goal this offseason, at OTAs and throughout camp. Just make plays. That's what the coaches want."
With that fourth cornerback spot being wide open, has that helped push you knowing a significant role on the team is out there for whoever wants to take it?
"For me, I don't care who you are, I'm just out there fighting for a spot every day. I don't care who you are, or what it is, but for me personally that's how I look at it. I want to fight for spot. I don't look at depth charts. Whenever I get a chance to make plays, I want people to see that this guy can play. Whenever we put him in, he can make plays. I don't care what it is — offense, defense, special teams — I don't care what it is. I want to show my coaches and teammates that I belong to where they can trust me to go out and make plays and help this team win."
Since defensive coordinator Teryl Austin was hired, turnovers have been a big focus. How big was that to come in and get three turnovers, technically?
"They called that last play a turnover (laughs)?"
The Bengals recovered it ...
"(Laughs) For the most part, yeah. Especially even getting a pick from a linebacker and one from the secondary. That's big-time. Coach doesn't just preach it to the secondary, he preaches it to the entire defense. Fumbles, picks, no matter what position you play, get closer to the ball. We scoop and score everything — you guys see it at practice. No matter if it's incomplete, scoop it up. But it's a good thing. When the ball hit the ground today, I wanted to go scoop it (laughs). I would have looked like a fool out there (laughs). But it gets ingrained in you. Once you see the ball you want to go get it. Coaches keep doing that every day. When you're around the ball you've got a knack for it now. I'm just trying to make that play. It's good to see at different levels making some different plays."
There was a play before the interception where you had really good coverage on the deep ball down the sideline. Did you feel like you had better coverage on that one?
"On that ball... I'm not sure. If he would have kept it in play, it would have been a better question to answer. At the end of the day, the techniques that coach has been teaching me, I used a lot of that today. He put me in position — whether the ball's in play or not — I'm in position to make a play. Even a couple of those balls I gave up, I was still in position to make the play. That's what the preseason is all about. Taking each game and each practice back to the film room and learning before the season actually starts."