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Quick Hits: For Newest Bengals, Joe Burrow Lure Lives; Why Mike Gesicki Eyed Cincy Early;  No Moss Gathering  For Zack Rolling Downhill 

New England Patriots tight end Mike Gesicki (88) in the first half of an NFL football game in Empower Field at Mile High Sunday, Dec. 24, 2023, in Denver. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
New England Patriots tight end Mike Gesicki (88) in the first half of an NFL football game in Empower Field at Mile High Sunday, Dec. 24, 2023, in Denver. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

The lure of Joe Burrow's Bengals lives.

Just talk to his two newest weapons after they signed Thursday.

Tight end Mike Gesicki, a seven-year vet, knows plenty of guys with Bengals ties, like his best buddy from Penn State, tight end Nick Bowers, as well as a pair of his old Dolphins teammates, Ted Karras and Ryan Fitzpatrick.

And, oh yeah, he took his recruiting trip to Ohio State with Bengals left end Sam Hubbard

But …

"They could have said that it was the worst place in the world, but when you've got No. 9 at quarterback, I was like, that is the place I want to go. That was something I was really looking forward to," Gesicki said. "There's not many, if any, guys that can do what he does with the football. It's definitely going to be a great opportunity for not only myself, but everybody in that locker room."

Running back Zack Moss, a five-year vet with Buffalo and the Colts, has been watching the playoffs when his seasons have been over.

"When he's been healthy, man, this team has been one of the top three teams in the league," Moss said. "The Super Bowl run and being a play or two away in an AFC championship game from going back again and things like that. So when you get a chance to join a team like this, you want to win, obviously. And at this point in your career, going on year five and playing winning ball before, it feels good to know that you're in a situation where you have a chance to kind of impact that winning culture and things like that.

"We have a ton of weapons and obviously Joe is one of the best quarterbacks in the league and he's been doing it now for a few years now, so I'm very excited to get in his offense and just get to work with these guys."

Gesicki has been in one playoff game (two catches for 15 yards in the Dolphins' 2022 Wild Card loss in Buffalo), so he's ring hunting, particularly after last season's 4-13 season in New England.  

"(A championship) is something that I've never been a part of before, so it's very exciting, but that's what you get when you've got one of those guys under center," Gesicki said. "His resume speaks for itself and the talent on the outside with Ja'Marr (Chase) and Tee (Higgins) and there are a lot of guys that are capable of making plays and a lot of guys that have made a lot of plays in this league on that offense. It's March 14th and it's early and all that kind of stuff, but for me, personally, my excitement levels are really high."

Gesicki and his wife have actually been talking about Cincinnati since the end of the season. So when he told her Tuesday they were headed here, there wasn't much of surprise.

"I've been talking about Cincinnati and just because I knew the opportunity that it presents, and I mean, there's not many opportunities out there with the type of offense, with the type of quarterback play that this place presents," Gesicki said. "The second it happened, the second that they called, I was like … we might be going to Cincinnati. And she was just as excited as me because she knows how important it is to me. It was super cool and I'm fired up, and like I said, this has been on my radar for a while."

They'll all be together Thursday night, where there's another welcome spectacular dinner orchestrated by Bengals director of operations Jeff Brickner at Jeff Ruby's with Burrow expected.

DOWN AND GRIDDY: OK, OK. First things first. Gesicki is known for his extremely awkward "The Griddy," dance after a touchdown and he knows he's on a team with the Griddy God in Chase.

"There wasn't a whole lot of Griddy last year in New England just based off of I only got in the end zone twice and felt like only one of them was worthy of it for me," Gesicki said, "I can't do it every time ... Big moments and exciting stuff like that. So only one time last year. I haven't had a lot of practice at it recently. It'll be fun to bring that back out."

DOWNHILL RACER: The 5-9, 205-pound Moss made it quite clear what kind of runner he is and even offered up some back -in-the-day heavy hitters he emulated.

"I would say I'm definitely downhil," said Moss, who has a career average of 4.3 yards for nearly 500 carries. "I think that's the best way, the easiest way to sum it all up. Growing up my favorite runners were Marshawn Lynch and Arian Foster. So dudes that got downhill, one cut and then kind of let their physical game do all the talking and things like that. So that's kind of where I find myself is: Get downhill, make guys miss. try to be an impact in the game from the physicality part. And sometimes teams feed off of that and things like that, so that's what I'm looking to bring."

NUMBERS GAME: New Bengals safety Geno Stone's first two career interceptions were basically a season apart (the 2021 finale and the second game of 2023), but they were off two big-time quarterbacks in Pittsburgh's Ben Roethlisberger and Burrow. The one off Burrow last season was the first of his AFC-leading seven.

"I just think it was because of opportunities. It was the most opportunities I had in my career so far. If you look, people always say that this is my breakout year," Stone said. "But if you go back, my first ever game, it was a preseason game my second year. I had two picks in the first half (against Jameis Winston and Taysom Hill of the Saints). Then the next year when I got more opportunities, I had another pick against Big Ben. My third year I had opportunities, but I just didn't make the most of them and I think last year I just took a huge, huge stride and I just did my work throughout my whole career and I took advantage of the opportunities."

GENO RINGS BELL: Stone (eight) has more career interceptions than nine-year safety Vonn Bell (seven), expected to re-sign Friday with the club he helped transform during his run in Cincinnati from 2020-2022. But Stone knew Bell has a lot more experience and is willing to share them long before they joined forces here with Bell teaching him defensive coordinator Lou Anarumo's scheme.

They met when Stone was still at New Castle High School in Pennsylvania and they've kept in touch. After he texted Bell to tell him he was headed to Cincinnati to sign, Stone woke up Thursday in his downtown Cincy hotel and saw the news Bell is now his teammate.

"He sat down with me because one of my closest friends just committed there and I was able to sit down with Vonn," said Stone of his stint at the Ohio State camp. "Since then I was able to reach out to him after the games when we played him and stuff like that. I was able to meet up with him in Miami in the past few years where he'd be training … I was pretty happy about (the news). "

FAREWELLS: Bell returns, but two playoff heroes who aren't were introduced by their new teams Thursday. Nose tackle DJ Reader signed a two-year deal in Detroit and running back Joe Mixon got a new three-year, $27 million deal in Houston a day after the trade to the Texans.

When he met the Houston media, Mixon was clearly still trying to wrap his arms around not being a Bengal anymore.

"It was definitely a shocker. I could just say that. It was definitely a shocker." Mixon said. "I took that 24 to 48 hours to hurt. It took a while. I'm still having emotional feelings about it. That's a place where I could forever feel like that's home for me. Like I said, I'm just very grateful that the fans, they embraced me the way that they did, and I just love everything about the way that the fans were."

Mixon says he's sticking with No. 28.

"I thought about changing it, but I think I'm going to stick to the 2-8. Just go ahead and stick to the traditional number of running backs, and 2-8 is going to be what it is," Mixon said. "Like I said, I promise you, you can expect a lot from that number this year."

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