Marvin Lewis News Conference
Paul Brown Stadium
June 14, 2016
* Opening comments*: "The way the NFL's offseason calendar is now, I don't know if the mandatory camp has quite the significance it once had when there were different work rules. But we'll continue as we have with the work we've been doing.
"It does offer an opportunity to spend a little more time at the culmination of our spring season with the players. That's how the schedule was put together, to spend some time that way, and to hopefully further advance our young players, most importantly, over these next three days as much as we can. Those are the real goals of this time here. To have as much productive work done and finished and move forward, so when we come into training camp, we come in a more knowledgeable group, particularly the new guys and the young guys.
Would the young tight ends seem to fall into that category?
"I think they're part of that group, obviously. Tyler Kroft and C.J. (Uzomah) spent a lot of time with us last season. Tyler played a lot, and C.J. got his moments. I think those are good examples of it."
Where do you think C.J. Uzomah is in his development?
"Well, he's going to go play live football, and that's where we're going to see how he's developed, because out here in shorts, nobody looks better. (Laughs)."
How do you judge these camps then, for players like him?
"We don't have to judge. We don't get to judge. We don't need to worry about that, so that's a mental exercise that would be wasteful. We'll get to evaluate him when we get to play in the four preseason games. When we get an opportunity to play live football, we'll get a chance to judge him."
How about the new rookie symposium? Are there any advantages?
"Well, I think part of the revision will allow maybe a more local focus for players. They'll still get the broad scope, but there could be a little more local focus. Some of it will be redundant to what we've already spent the last seven weeks with them. They've been in Eric Ball's program for the last six, five-and-a-half weeks, so that will be a little bit of redundancy.
"We've tried to cover some new ground and hit some more specific things later on. There will be some more outside influence coming in to help facilitate with that over time period. But that is the biggest thing, to be able to more focus it on what particular areas that you as a rookie are looking to grow and thrive on, as a person away from the field and off the field, as well as the football part. The football part we've taken care of. Now we'll take care of the off-field part."
How important has the program become to rookies?
"Well, I think – and again, I've never attended – but from what I've been able to gather from it, it's important that they're all there together and they all hear the same message. The positive of it now is that you're involving all rookies and not just draft picks."
Are you part of it? Bringing in former Bengals players?
"It's specific groups. It's not just necessarily alumni from your particular area or team, but it's people who have already been a part of the NFL programs that way. They've been part of the curriculum, so they'll still be part of the curriculum."
What are one or two things you want them walking out of there with?
"Well I think they want them to walk out with the fact that this is a privilege and not a right. That's mistake No. 1. You don't get to stay long if you don't do it right. You're not going to be here very long. Hopefully they understand that part of it. To me, that's been one of the takeaways I think a lot of guys get. The guys that have struggled in the past with the attention level, they won't end up staying long in the NFL."
Is the transition from Coach (Ken) Zampese to offensive coordinator going as expected? Has Andy had to take over any of it in that regard?
"You've seen less of that particular thing, where Andy has to do any kind of translation. Our quarterback continues to blossom with his own leadership and his personality. Kenny provides a new space for him to continue to do that."
What does Brandon LaFell add?
"He's a proven pro who has had an opportunity to play successfully in the league. When we signed Brandon, we were getting a player that had proven that he can be productive on an NFL field. His work ethic and other parts of him add to that. You bring in a guy who you've researched how hard working he is. All of those are positives. He began with us eight weeks ago, and he's trying to get to know a new offensive scheme, his teammates, and quarterback. It's been a good start to it."
Is it an important message to reward people like Gio Bernard, with his new contract?
"The message is that if you put your head down and go to work, then good things will happen. You also get a chance to control it. In our case with Gio, it all worked out well. We're glad that he's been signed. We'll continue to work on some other players between now and the beginning of the season. Hopefully we get some more done."
What does a former coach like Jim Haslett bring to the table?
"Jim's experiences are tremendous to have. From my perspective to the coordinators' perspective to his position players perspective, he commands that kind of respect. He has good views to offer. Those have really been a positive to us."
What do you know about Will Clarke and Margus Hunt at this point?
"What we know is that they're going to mentally be up to speed all the time. They're going to go out there and give you everything they have. What we're looking for them to do as players is break through to be productive guys; game changing players. We're going to put it out there, and let them go that way. Its a good situation to be in; hopefully for them and for us."
So is it about the four preseason games to define themselves?
"Right. They have to earn their way onto the football team. It's like that with lot of guys in respect to that."