A transcript of Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis' appearance before the national media Friday at the NFL scouting combine.
Q: On Rey Maualuga, how disappointed are you and do you feel like it is going to be a continuing problem?ML: "It's obviously a disappointment in what occurred. I think Rey has taken some dramatic steps to fix and deal with this kind of behavior. He knows the situation he's put himself in his career, our football team, the organization, the city and it's unfortunate to try to be doing the right thing but do very poorly what he did and not to make very good decisions at all."
Q: On the passing game and finding new weapons: ML: "We have to be more productive in our passing game. We were able to go in and frankly change the face of our football team a little bit which I think is dramatic. But with that being said we also took some hits in some things we've adjusted. We're going to continue to adjust to be better and one of those areas we need to improve in is make chunk throws and big plays downfield. We're excited about it just like the revisions we made last year both to personnel and scheme."
Q: Do you feel like just tweaks need to be made? ML: "I do. We have great pieces in place. Obviously we have a fine quarterback whose a great leader whose very, very hungry to take the football team beyond where it's been. I think we have some talent at many other spots. We have a group up front that really grew together that came out of the ashes and grew to be pretty cohesive and effective. We'll be able to have Andre (Smith) in there from the start, which will help immensely. We're about to enter the phase that I hate the most (free agency). But the real part of football when we get back to doing that we will have the pieces in place and that will be exciting for us and be able to move forward with the experience we gained last year."
Q: How much progress has Andre Smith made? ML: "He hasn't made any right now because he had his foot operated on. We took some dramatic steps to make sure it was not a lingering issue this coming fall. At this point everything has gone very, very well and he's on schedule, which is good. He was still having some pain at some different times last season that he wouldn't admit to very often to many people but we wanted to get it addressed. We had him looked at by a lot of foot specialists and
they all recommended that he get this addressed. He has matured a lot. He got his nose wet, just barely, in NFL football. He liked it and he sees how effective he can be and if he wants to achieve the greatness that he can he has to keep his nose to the grindstone."
Q: What do you need to improve the pass rush? Is it more personnel/technique?ML: "I think it's a combination of both. We made a dramatic improvement last year. It got stalled out toward the middle and the end. We came out of the blocks and did some good things with a lot of different people. That's part of becoming an effective team is maturity."
Q: Safety position? ML: "There are most areas where we'll add some depth but safety will probably be an area where we would consider looking at at some point in the draft."
Q: Laveranues Coles? ML: "Laveranues came in and added a sense of professionalism and maturity that that room needed severely. He did a great job of that. He added to the character of that room. He was able to show Chad from someone coming from the outside in just how it's done week after week and you need to be somewhat fortunate of where you are. Feel good about where you are and have an opportunity to be. He showed Chad how much better he could be in terms of attention to detail. Sometimes it takes a guy from outside to come in and show a guy that."
Q: Tight ends in this draft class?ML: "This is real early because I haven't watched a lot of tapes. From what I have been told that the interesting things about the tight end class is you're going to have guys who didn't play this last season and some guys who rose. It will be a matter of evaluate in the time that you spend with those guys how they stack up."
Q: Defensive class deeper? ML: "There will be some depth defensively kind of spread out among all the positions. Even at linebacker which is an area we would not focus on early."
Q: Has your philosophy changed in how you construct the roster defensively considering the teams you face in 2010?ML: "I don't know that that would change. It's hard to say what teams are going to be doing when you face them next season. We look at a team in Week 1 and then in Week 17 they look different. We have to be effective in our division and approach things that way. We're going to play the NFC South, which has very good quarterbacks, three of the four teams have good QBs. We go back and play the AFC East, play at Indy and San Diego at home. We're going to play some experienced teams but I think we're more experienced on that side of the ball. Mike does a great job of breaking down the opponent and making them understand from the onset this is what we need to be effective."
Q: With cornerbacks and safeties, does one position have more impact than the other? ML: "Those safeties that can dominate a game, they've been rare. But when you look down through the history of NFL football they have been very effective on their teams. I think they allow you to put the game together differently and coaches have done a nice job doing that. If you've gone another way where you've taken the cornerback and you build it differently on that side. My experience has been. We had two fine players in Pittsburgh and we had a mix. In Baltimore we had two fine corners that enabled us to do great things and our two young guys are doing a great job right now. And yet the development of our two corners has been because of what the safeties have been able to add and the professionalism of playing NFL football."
Q: Thoughts on Mike Holmgren coming to Cleveland?ML: "Mike is someone I've known for a long time and have respect as a football coach. He's in a little different position right now. Through his leadership and guidance he'll be effective."
Q: Is Jerome Simpson ready to break through?ML: "We're going to do everything we can to help Jerome progress down that road. He's a player who I feel very good about. He tries to do everything we've asked him to do. We can't get him on the field and let him feel good about himself enough. We're going to take some steps to keep him down that road."
Q: Can he be that deep threat?ML: "He can be that guy. He should be that guy. That's why we drafted him."
Q: Do you need more vertical speed?ML: "We need to be able to make vertical plays and if we throw it down 40 yards and get a pass interference penalty that counts. Those are the things we're going to look to do. We need to make more chunk plays offensively and be able to effect the game so that we don't grind it out and have 25 first downs every week."