As news broke of the encouraging improvement of Bills safety Damar Hamlin before Thursday's practice, Bengals offensive and defensive coordinators Brian Callahan and Lou Anarumo spoke for the first time of Monday night's events.
Callahan was in the press box and Anarumo was on the field, both not knowing Hamlin had suffered a cardiac arrest. They also may have not yet known as they went to the practice field that two miles away at the University of Cincinnati Medical Center doctors said Hamlin could communicate in writing.
From his perch Monday, Callahan had a better view on a TV monitor but with the headsets pretty much turned off there was still "a stunning lack of information," before he went down to the field.
As players and coaches initially milled about, Anarumo saw Bills defensive tackle Jordan Phillips, a player he had in Miami.
"He came over to me and he was visibly shaken and I could tell it was a little bit more," Anarumo said. "Every time you saw their players kind of look in there and come away with their head in their hands, you knew that something was going on that wasn't normal, a normal injury type thing. You go out there and think, 'Hey, he's going to be OK.' I guess from now on it will always be, 'Please, let him be OK.' Let's never see that again.' "
Callahan, who has coached in the league for 13 seasons, has never seen anything like it and he said the coaches have been on guard to make sure they were aware of players having trouble dealing with what they saw.
"I can't think of anything that's ever felt like that. It was very, very strange. Very strange," Callahan said. "If you see somebody is having some issues or not sure how they feel about things, you do your best to direct them to somebody that can help or have a conservation with them yourself. I haven't seen anything that would make me feel there' are a lot of guys that feel that way, but certainly it's not something you take for granted and it's something we are paying attention to, to see any changes in any kind of behaviors or anything like that. It's a very delicate situation and a very unique one. I don't think I've ever had this happened."
_Anarumo got the sense the players having a better day with word Hamlin is improving.
"It's definitely not a normal week. I feel like one week ran into the next and partly because it was a short week we were stressed that way, too," Anarumo said. "I think our guys each day keep getting better. The locker room right now they're kind of feeling better about things. I think the more good news they get about Damar's situation there's less stress on them and they're able to focus more on the game. Not that he's out of the woods yet, but if he was still not responding the way that he is it maybe it wouldn't be the same. The fact that it's trending in the right direction is helping everyone."
_Before Monday night's game, the Bengals were expected to elevate right tackle Isaiah Prince from the practice squad. They didn't and started Hakeem Adeniji in place of the injured La'el Collins for the first change on the offensive line this season. And it sounds like they're going with him again Sunday (1 p.m.-Cincinnati's Local 12) against the Ravens at Paycor Stadium.
"He had been the best over the course of the week. He did a nice job," Callahan said of Adeniji. "We were letting those guys roll around and have a chance to compete for it. He did a nice job. We've got guys we feel confident about so where if there were some reason he were to struggle and have an issue in a game, we can replace him and continue to play with. He did a nice job early in the game. We didn't get a chance for a full sample size. He did a nice job so far and hopefully he'll do well for us on Sunday."
_It sounds like Anarumo is preparing for Ravens backup quarterback Tyler Huntley with Lamar Jackson missing the last several games with a knee injury.
"He hasn't practiced in a month. He didn't practice today," Anarumo said. "We'll see what happens on the practice report today. But we'll get ready for the Ravens offense. And if he happens to be the quarterback, we'll be prepared for that, too."
With or without Jackson, the run has to be stopped. Since Jackson got hurt Dec. 4, the Ravens have rushed for at least 184 yards three times. They're No. 2 running the ball in the league and the Bengals are fifth stopping it.
In the ten games since allowing 155 yards to Baltimore on the ground in the 19-17 loss in Baltimore Oct. 9, the Bengals have held foes to 107 or fewer rush yards seven times. That night the Ravens had Jackson and the Bengals didn't have nose tackle DJ Reader and Sunday looks like it's going to be reversed.