Lewis News Conference Transcript

Marvin Lewis News Conference
Paul Brown Stadium
August 26, 2015

Opening comments …
"I will tell you that after watching the videotape of the game Monday night, I was no more pleased than I was after the game. I was disappointed in No. 1, our energy, our execution. Those things were disappointing overall, particularly for the first units. I think as things went on, we did better things. But when you go out there on an NFL field, you've got be ready to go right away. You've got to put your football out there and make plays when opportunity arises, in all three phases of the game. As we went on and other guys got in the game, I thought guys did good things. There were some guys who rose up and were competitive and showed well. That you're happy with. We've got another opportunity here in a few days, so that will be good."

The way it worked with Tampa Bay having the ball so much, did that curtail some of the evaluation, where some players didn't get as many snaps as you would have hoped?
"There were a few guys that didn't get as many. I think it worked out where on both units, the first group got about what I was expecting to get. It just took a little longer for the offense to get it than I would have liked. But that's the way it goes. Defensively, we pulled them out after they got where we wanted them to be and put some other guys in and let them play."

Did the younger guys step up and show well?
"I was pleased with our draft picks again. That's what makes preseason exciting to me, to have those guys go out there, and you get a chance to evaluate them against the other teams and see how they're playing and reacting to things. It's live football, and you need to see that. We were down some guys on defense, down some of our backups on defense in the game, but hopefully we'll get more guys out and playing this week."

Chris Carter has showed well in practice. Was it important for him to do that in a game situation?
"Yes, it was important. Obviously he's battling for a job. So every time he gets an opportunity out there, that's important."

P.J. Dawson has flashed on some plays, but how much for him contributing to this team in the regular season is about the consistency on the non-flash plays?
"He's in the tutoring program constantly (smiles). That's where we expected him to be, and he's better than I expected him to be, which is a good thing. He's worthwhile to have in that program. He deserves all the attention he gets every day. And it comes from Darrin (Simmons), from Matt (Burke), from Paul (Guenther) and from myself. He garners a lot of attention, and that's fine. At the end of the day, he's certainly going to be a worthwhile linebacker. He has instinctive things that we can't coach, things he's he's very natural with. Now we just have to keep coaching him and get him in the right spots and do things the way we want we want to do them, with discipline all the time."

That what you expect of any rookie linebacker?
"That's what you would hope to have. You can't play by numbers. It's got to be a feel. You can work with the rest of it. Literally to play linebacker in the NFL and be successful, it doesn't take many snaps to figure out that a guy is going to be pretty good at doing it. Then you can teach him how to cut down wasted steps and trim the fat off of things. We can teach him that. That part I have been really pleased with."

Is he good that if you tell him once, he's got it?
"Yeah. He's a very good learner that way."

Have you seen steps and improvement from game one to two?
"He got more opportunity the other night."

What did AJ McCarron show you?
"That the game wasn't too big. He had some bad field position starts and was able to keep going, come back and do it, play, make some positive plays. Hopefully he learns. We had an instance last week in practice mirrored in the game. If you get out of the pocket, move on to the next down. Don't try to do too much and get trapped and then you lose all chances to do everything. Those are the things he's going to have to learn as he goes. The guys here run faster even then they did in the SEC. As a quarterback, when you get out of the pocket, you have to protect the football and get ready to get down."

Was it a tough decision to release Josh Johnson?
"It was a decision made literally to help Josh as much as anything. We didn't get enough snaps to get him in the game last week. My plan was, he was likely not going to play this week. It gives him an opportunity to catch on with another team. In practice we wanted to put our focus on AJ. So it's difficult to have a guy who busted his tail here like Josh has done, yet not getting an opportunity. That's hard. That's the kind of thing we have tried to do with all the guys. If you are not going to get the opportunity, we are going to give you an opportunity to possibly get a spot somewhere else."

Is there a plan to get McCarron a ton of reps?
"We'll stay on track. We'll do as we had planned earlier."

AJ looked like he was having a heck of time out there, that he had missed it …
"That's the way his personality is. He's got the personality somewhat of a linebacker who plays quarterback. He can lead guys and he gets excited. That's a good thing, that's part of what made him such a successful player."

He's probably the least-experienced guy you'll have that's backed up Andy, is that any concern for you going into a season?
"You know I never say I have a concern, so you shouldn't frame the question that way (laughs). But we've got a guy who has a lot of moxie, has a lot of other experience. I think in that situation, you'd have to go in and play to AJ's strengths and continue to do that. That's why we go out there and practice every day. We're going to play these preseason games to continue to work on what AJ's strengths are, so that if anything would happen to Andy (Dalton), we would be prepared offensively to shift and go to that mode.
"That's the one lesson learned years ago without Carson (Palmer), that whoever's playing quarterback, Fitzy (RyanFitzpatrick) at that time, to make sure we're doing the things that that quarterback can do, and have it not be Carson's offense or Andy's offense. It's got to be that quarterback's offense."

How do you give a No. 2 guy snaps and get him that experience?
"Well, he gets it in these games, and on the practice field now as much as we can. But yeah, when the season rolls around, that second guy doesn't get many snaps. But in AJ, you have a guy who last year, even with being on the PUP list, was pushed to prepare as if he was the starting quarterback and he did that. He welcomed that challenge all the time with Kenny (Zampese). He stood back there with me in practice all the time, and I told him to play, and he went through everything in his mind, and he talked it. That's what you want."

I know you've talked about this, you like guys who have been on the big stage, and there is no bigger stage than what he experienced in college …
"He's been through it and realizes it. This is something he's wanted the opportunity to do all his life."

With Andre Smith, Jake Fisher and Trey Hopkins out, how would you look at your offensive line depth?
"It's been great. For guys like Dan France, Matt O'Donnell, Tanner Hawkinson. These guys have got a lot of reps at that guard/tackle spot. Now we hope to have the other guys back and going this week, but again, this is an audition these guys are making, not just for us but across the NFL."

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