Opening comments:ML: "When we looked on tape at the Cleveland Browns – regardless of what's going on with their season and all the things that have been said and written – the amazing thing is that Eric (Mangini) and their coaches have this group playing very hard. They've done nothing but get better each and every week. They're playing hard and smart football. Last week, they were very productive on defense. They've continued to turn the ball over on defense and make plays on defense. They're getting pressure on the quarterback, they're causing some turnovers, and their completion percentage is not that far off from what you'd want. Obviously, in the kicking game, they have a great weapon in Josh Cribbs. That's our challenge as we get prepared to play.
"For our fans, it will be a fun day. This is, as we know, the Battle of Ohio, the last part of it this year. It will be a great day weather-wise, and the fans will be out and loud. It'll be a fun day to be a part of and be a Bengals fan. We have to get back on track with six football games to go, with this one being the most important one to date.
"As far as our guys go with our health, we're getting a little healthier, which is a good thing to be saying at his point in the year. Some of the guys who have been unable to play the last couple of weeks will have an opportunity to play this week. We'll determine that as the week goes through. We'll give some guys some rest today: (Johnathan) Joseph, (Domata) Peko, (Morgan) Trent, (Laveranues) Coles and possibly (Rey) Maualuga. The other guys – (Evan) Mathis, (Keith) Rivers and (Cedric) Benson – seem to be very close. For me, that's a bright light for us, having these guys coming back."
Q: Will Cedric Benson practice today? ML: "He won't really. He'll be listed as not practicing with the team, but he'll assume the 'Cedric-Wednesday' type of work."
Q: So he's on schedule to play? ML: "He's got a good opportunity to play this week. We'll see."
Q: Even if Cedric Benson does play, will Bernard Scott get a good chunk of carries?ML: "As I said after the game last week and after the Pittsburgh game, Bernard has earned an opportunity to continue to play. He'll have a chance, and he'll get some opportunities one way or the other. If Ced (Cedric Benson) is back and playing, Bernard will still play a considerable amount this week."
Q: What's the difference, in terms of being in 'game shape,' between how Cedric Benson was before the injury compared to how Bernard Scott was when he wasn't getting a lot of carries?ML: "There's a big difference, particularly as a ball carrier because there are times you're carrying some folks on your back with you. You can come out here and practice and take a lot of reps, but until you have to have the anxiety and adrenaline of the game, and the ebb and flow of the game, you don't get that opportunity. It kind of blows the pipes out a little bit. But once you get through it, you're good. That's kind of a one-time situation, and then you're generally good to go. That happens to a lot of guys to start the year. They have that opening game and opening series and that opening half, and then it calms down and goes. For Bernard, that's what happened last week. He's continued to expand, and you have to give him credit. He's handled everything we've thrown at him."
Q: What would it mean for the team to be 6-0 in division play?ML: "(Laughs) It would mean we went 6-0 in the division. I'm sorry, I don't think it would mean much more than that. I don't think we get anything for it. I don't mean to belittle that. It's one step along the way, which is a good thing. It would be one goal accomplished. Obviously, our goals go a little longer down the line than that."
Q: Would you consider Brady Quinn more of a mobile QB, with his ability to move around the pocket?ML: "I'm not saying he's more mobile than Derek Anderson, but those are the things he's pretty comfortable in doing. I think we are going to see bootlegs and things right off, wide receiver screens, some perimeter things right away. He's comfortable throwing the ball on the move like that. We have to be prepared for things like that in the game."
Q: He didn't play in the first meeting of the season, but what does Jamal Lewis bring to the Cleveland offense?ML: "Jamal has been a very established runner in the league since 2000. He's done a lot of good things, and he's overcome a couple of serious injuries. He's a good hard-nosed runner. He's a fast guy, very talented guy. I can remember the first time Jamal Lewis carried the football in the NFL in a game. I remember his first game, his first practice carry, and he's impressed me all throughout. I go back a long ways with Jamal.
Q: What did he do with that first carry?ML: "He left guys standing in the hole. Untouched."
Q: Do you remember the 2001 training camp practice where he injured his knee? ML: "I remember the knee injury practice, as well."
Q: You guys have not had much success throwing the deep ball: ML: "I don't think the opportunities have been there as much. The things defenses are doing are part of the reason we've been able to run the football pretty well. I think that's a credit to our quarterback, not letting the ball go when the situation doesn't develop the way it should, and get the ball to where it belongs. I think the key to playing productive offense is, 'Let's attack the coverage and the weakness of the coverage, and not put into the teeth of the coverage.' "
Q: A lot of the players have talked about how the loss against Oakland was particularly tough to swallow. Would you agree?ML: "I think when you lose, you all have to learn something from it. And when you all lose a game and you make error -- whichever one you want to point to -- everyone had an opportunity to do something better. It sits with you. And the only way you get that taste out of you is to go back out there and fix it. Looking across the board player-wise, team-wise there were a lot of plays. One play could have meant the difference in the football game. We all look at that, as coaches. We look at that and wonder what one thing we could've done differently, one more way. What could we have done to do it just better? We didn't, and that one's way gone."
Q: Thanksgiving's tomorrow, which one's better for you: the turkey, stuffing or cranberry sauce? ML: "I would probably go with the turkey, because otherwise we're not going to have anything. So Happy Thanksgiving to you all, too."