The season that Bengals running back Chris Evans spent as the special teams coach at Michigan's Huron High School involved crafting blocking schemes on kick return.
"I came up with some mean schemes for blockers," Evans recalled last week.
When told about that, his current special teams coordinator, the demanding Darrin Simmons, offered, "Tell him to come up with some mean returns. Some long mean ones. I'll take care of the schemes."
So Evans obliged, ripping off a 41-yarder in Friday night's preseason opener. But the grab-it-and-run-right return was far from elaborately drawn up.
"That was a simple return. A day one install return," Evans said. "I just hit it with speed and try to make my teammates right."
With Brandon Wilson (ACL) still on PUP, Evans looks to the Opening Day returner. Just like he was the Super Bowl returner as a rookie. Simmons is making sure he's getting better than then with his brand of tough love.
"I've got to get my teammates' reaction if it was a good return or not because Darrin won't tell you if it's good. He'll tell you how to make it better," Evans said before Monday's practice. "Watching film, you might see him give it one of these (a low first pump), but he won't say it."
Like on the big return. Simmons just told him to stiff-arm the heck out of the kicker and don't step out of bounds. That was it.
"In his mind," Evans said, "he's trying to clean everything up because it's the preseason."
Simmons may not tell him, but he's been pretty kind to Evans in the media, realizing that he never returned kicks until Wilson injured his knee last year in mid-season. No doubt he liked how decisive Evans was Friday. After talking to running back Trayveon Williams, he knows why decisive is even more crucial.
"Trayveon was on the left wing and he said it felt like he was out there for ten minutes blocking," Evans said. "He was up on the 30 when I got the ball at the 5 and he had to block until I got up on him. If I don't hit it fast, it's going to make everybody else's job harder."
But Evans says his time at Huron drawing up front line schemes has given him a feel for how to return the ball and where.
"Know where the doubles are," Evans said. "Know which blocks take a little longer. It's all about timing and hitting it right. And you have to know some guys on the back side have longer blocks."
_Head coach Zac Taylor said again not to expect the starters to play in New York Sunday (7 p.m.-NFL Network) and to look for the same guys that played against Arizona to work against the Giants.
_Rookie center-guard Ben Brown went on season-ending injured reserve Monday. Taylor said rookie cornerback Allan George, who sat out Sunday, is expected to play in New York
_Taylor said Joe Burrow goes only in 7-on-7 again Monday after his camp debut on Sunday. After they don't practice Tuesday, they'll see if he's good to go in team Wednesday.
"I thought he moved around well, and so again, we'll just continue to take it day by day," Taylor said. Today is another opportunity to do that. Tomorrow is a player day off. I'm sure he'll do some stuff with that, and the rehab stuff and then we'll see where we're at on Wednesday. That's undetermined where we'll be at. Get him a chance to do another day like he did (Sunday) and that was encouraging for everybody to see."
_Taylor made it sound like left guard Jackson Carman is going to play despite not practicing Sunday. He said the competition with rookie Cordell Volson is "far from solidified."