Just like he did the day the Cowboys drafted Terence Newman, Mike Zimmer gave it to him straight when Newman showed up after signing a one-year deal with the Bengals this spring.
"He told me I was horse bleep in Dallas," Newman says. " 'You couldn't do this. You couldn't do that.' Those were the words right out of his mouth. But the fact he wanted me here, I said I'm going to try everything I can because it's obvious he stuck his neck out for me and I didn't want that to be a negative for him."
Consider it done. Newman smoothly moved into the starting cornerback spot opposite Leon Hall and has been a big reason the Bengals have shut down a slew of different passing games in the four-game winning streak by allowing just one touchdown pass. Even before then, Zimmer thought his concerns were the most solid part of his defense.
He had to get safety Chris Crocker to straighten out the secondary, needed some D-linemen to get healthy, and middle linebacker Rey Maualuga to lose weight. But the corners were OK. Newman says the reasons for his revival are pretty simple.
"I would say 70 percent of it is Zim and the other 30 percent is the fact I've worked to get back where I was and he's coached the hell out of me to get back to that," Newman said. "A lot of it was I was guessing on routes instead of playing them."
When Zimmer was in the middle of his seven-year run as the Cowboys defensive coordinator, Dallas took Newman with the fifth pick in the 2003 draft and molded him into a two-time Pro Bowl cornerback. When Zimmer left after the 2006 season, Neman stayed for five more years and ended up getting cut after last season.
But at age 34 and a decade of Big D highs and lows, Newman is bulletproof when it comes to emotion about Sunday's game against the Cowboys (1 p.m.-Cincinnati's Channel 19) at Paul Brown Stadium.
"It's so long ago; team goals are more important than getting back for a team I played for," Newman said. "Our goal is to just not make the playoffs, but make it through the playoffs. That's mostly on my mind. Certain things are expected and change is one of them. Change is constant."
Newman is going through some changes here. He says he took a step back to see what he needed to do "to play better football." His daily regimen is a clue. After watching tape until about 5:15, he'll get in the hot tub for three to five minutes, get in the cold tub for 20 minutes, and then take a 10-minute steam to keep his body at what he calls "26 and a half" years.
He also feels refreshed by the way Zimmer and secondary coaches Mark Carrier and Hue Jackson run practices.
"The coaches do a good job of taking care of us," Newman said. "We don't have to take every single play in practice and I think that helps us going into games. I was pretty much used to taking every rep in Dallas and it's like I'm not getting any younger; that caught up to me.
"With Zim, you have to run to the ball every play. You don't just run the play and that's it. You've got to run to the ball. So you get your running in while your practicing, but since you can take some snaps off you don't get worn down."