Giovani Bernard has come back fast from an ACL injury before, but did it surprise you how quickly he came back from this one? It looked yesterday as if he hadn't missed any time at all.
"It didn't surprise me. From the start when he was injured last season, the medical people felt like his return and his surgery and everything should be without complication, and that he would have a good and early result, which is what the doctors felt right away when he was injured. He's obviously met those expectations. It was important to him to be back and ready to go from the start, and he's worked his tail off to do that. He's been very diligent in his rehab all through the process, from the time he was injured and getting the swelling down to before he had the surgery. He's stayed on schedule and been ahead of the curve."
With respect to the surgeries and rehabs that guys are having with everyone being available, it's been a while since all hands have been on deck to the extent that they are. Hasn't it been quite a while?
"I don't know that. You keep track of that better than I would. For the most part, we're usually pretty ready to go at this point. It's our aiming point, and we go from there. The only thing we can't really speed up at this point is the physiology of the healing process."
Do you ever think about how far you've come in coaching, from what an ACL injury meant then from what it means now?
"It's individual to each player, the particular injury and the trauma in the injury. But, it is conceivable. In 1995, I watched Rod Woodson come back in the same season. So, I've seen a few of these guys do it."
Do you have to a special kind of guy to attack the rehab in order for something like that to happen?
"I think you do, he's got to be special. Obviously, (Bengals director of rehabilitation and assistant certified athletic trainer) Nick Cosgray has done a great job of getting him back and ready to go, as well as the doctors. The guy has to be dedicated. There are going to be some tough days, with pain and soreness when you begin. So you have to fight your way through that. That's an important thing for us when guys get hurt. That's why we like our guys to do most of their rehab here, so that we can help them through those tough days."
It seems like the first practice was the perfect blend of really competitive, but not stupid and not over the line. Instances always come up, but how do you pull that off?
"We've had 12 of these days now, and that was the 13th basically. And we are basically working on those similar rules. That's the thing we are trying to impress on the young guys as soon as we get them for practice. The good thing from yesterday was that we didn't have guys on the ground that needed to sleep, and that's important. If it means having the collision at the football, give that up right away. We're trying to harp upon it, show them examples right away, and show how we can practice as pros and still be very prepared for Sundays."
What's the first day the team be in pads?
You have to be impressed with the football team's conditioning...
"Yes, we were pleased with the reporting weights and our conditioning tests on Thursday. Pleased with what the guys did. Those who could participate did a great job."
You didn't have anyone kick yesterday during practice. Why?
"Just because of the length of the time now. We kind of rotated every day in the spring, with two guys each day. Darrin (Simmons) has them work. He has done this for a long time and has been involved with it for longer, so I'm very comfortable with his plan. We sat down and discussed his plan before training camp."
After the first practice, how are you looking at Vontaze Burfict, compared to this time a year ago?
"It's very similar to where he was a year ago. He did a great job through this offseason — a consistent job. Unfortunately, two years ago he started on the PUP (Physically Unable to Perform list), which I don't know if that would've happened if we weren't overhauling the facility (at Paul Brown Stadium). It was the year we overhauled the facility, and not everything was done at that point. So, he had to go to another site because we were making the transition from the one weight room to this weight room. That set him back, I think. But he's taking full advantage of everything this year, not just on his own time when he's away from us, but when he's been with us. And that's good. He's in a good place. In his mind, he's got a lot to play for."
This is the first time since 2013 that Vontaze has had a true offseason...
"That was the best he's been, and he's back to that. He just has to maintain it. And as you've said, it's just one day. But, it's actually day No. 13, because we've had some already. He's done a good job in those days. He's got continue it."
How has Kevin Minter picked things up and what attributes does he bring to the team?
"He's been great. It's what we expected. He's been almost plug-and-play. Kevin was a very fine, steady player at LSU. He played within the scheme. He's done a great job since coming here and learning what we are doing. He's fitting right in with the group of guys. He plays hard and with his pads at the right level. He understands the passing game and where he needs to fit in the run defense, depending on the defense and coverage. I've been very pleased with him. It's been a good fit."
Nick Vigil looks like he's worked on his upper body in the offseason. Are you pleased in what you've seen in him?
"It's a common progression in what you see in guys from their first year to their second year. They spend their first year getting prepared to get here. After that, they figure out what it is. He's had a whole season of eating better and training, and now he's going to grow as a man. That's why you want the guys that look like that coming out of college. Jordan Evans is a good example of that this year."