Updated: 6:35 p.m.
The Jovan Belcher murder-suicide hit the Bengals in a few ways Saturday and head coach Marvin Lewis talked to the team about it that day in San Diego, the day before their 20-13 victory over the Chargers.
Not only did defensive end Wallace Gilberry play with Belcher during three previous seasons in Kansas City, but the son of Bengals defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer had been one of Belcher's linebackers coaches for the past three seasons.
Adam Zimmer texted his father with the news Saturday morning and they spoke later, as well as after the Chiefs victory against the Panthers on Sunday. It brought back tough memories for both. Adam Zimmer was coaching in New Orleans in 2009 when mother Vikki passed away suddenly in Cincinnati at age 50.
"Adam said he really liked the kid. He coached him. He seemed pretty shook up. It brought back some other memories of things. He seemed down," Mike Zimmer said Monday. "In those situations the three hours that you are concentrating on football (in the game) and then it goes back to being – because he's a very conscientious kid and I'm sure he wondered what he could have done differently or talked to the kid more, but he said he liked him, said he was a nice kid and good guy."
Mike Zimmer said he also got a text from Yolanda Brooks, the Dallas-based sports psychologist that helped the family in the wake of Vikki's death offering to speak to Adam if needed.
"It would have been hard. Regardless we're on different teams, we're all a family. It affects our players. I'm sure it affects everyone in the league. 'Man, that could happen to one of our guys,' " Mike Zimmer said.
Like everyone else, Zimmer had trouble wrapping his arms around the fact that Belcher killed himself in front of head coach Romeo Crennel and general manager Scott Pioli.
"(Adam) saw a lot of the stuff, but he didn't see that, thank God," he said. "He was in his office. He looked out his window and saw the police there. I don't know how Romeo … I don't know how I would have, I mean, wow."
Lewis encouraged his players to share their problems and to identify teammates who may be dealing with difficult situations.
"There are a lot of pressures on these players that go unseen and unknown. When your buddy has certain things weighing on him, if you feel like you as a player need to share, don't forget where we are," Lewis said. "We're here to help you. If you as a teammate see somebody else that seems overburdened, let's not let it go unnoticed and let's make sure we bring it to light. Let's see if we can resolve the issue before something like that happens."
Like Zimmer, Lewis felt like it had to be treated like a death in the family.
"Any time anything happens to another NFL club involving an NFL player or coach, it touches on someone on your current team, or other various people," Lewis said. "You have players who played with that player in college or on the NFL level, so there is closeness that way. It's also looked at as, 'This is one of our guys.' He's playing for another club, but he's one of a very small, select group of people."
One irony for the Bengals is that the last time they played in San Diego on Dec. 20, 2009, it was three days after wide receiver Chris Henry was killed in a car accident.
"Chris's unfortunate death was different circumstances," Lewis said. "I'm one of, what, 15 guys maybe, other than some of the coaches, that were here for that? Most of the football team was not here, so they really don't have a perspective on that."
SLANTS AND SCREENS
» This figures to be a week of moves for the 7-5 Bengals as they ready for another must afternoon Sunday against the 6-6 Cowboys (1 p.m.-Cincinnati's Channel 19) at Paul Brown Stadium.
Backup running back Cedric Peerman injured his ankle during Sunday's win in San Diego and head coach Marvin Lewis said Monday his status is unclear. But with the club down to two healthy backs in BenJarvus Green-Ellis and Brian Leonard, look for the Bengals to hold some tryouts on Tuesday for veterans on the street. Another option is signing rookie Daniel Herron from the practice squad.
The Bengals will have an open roster spot when they put rookie wide receiver Mohamed Sanu on injured reserve following Monday's surgery to repair his broken fifth metatarsal in his foot.
They could also activate center Kyle Cook from the injured reserve-recall list this week, but they would also have to make room for him. The Bengals won't keep three centers and since rookie Trevor Robinson has started the last five games, they have to figure out what to do with veteran Jeff Faine.
» The Bengals defense is on fire. It hasn't allowed a touchdown in two out of the last three games and has allowed foes less than 300 yards the past three games while vaulting to eighth in the defensive rankings.
In the four-game winning streak the Bnegals have allowed just two touchdowns and one in the red zone and that that was in the first game of the winning streak.
And defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer says they've done it against "a murder's row" of quarterbacks, among them Eli Manning, Carson Palmer and Philip Rivers. The Bengals face another in Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo, he of the 105.1 passer rating in the last five games. He's definitely the one playing the best of the others with 10 touchdowns and two interceptions.
Zimmer said it began to turn after Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning beat the Bengals late in a tight game on Nov. 4 for Cincinnati's last loss.
"I feel like and maybe it was the same with me after the Baltimore game and then we played Cleveland, we won, but we didn't play well. We had lost some confidence. Then we got a couple guys hurt and everything was just in flux," Zimmer said. "In my opinion we were not playing, we didn't have confidence of a good defensive team. We had some good games in there, Jacksonville, but it was actually after Denver, we played pretty good against Denver, we got beat but we played pretty good. Then I think the confidence started building. The Giants game added to that. This little stretch that we are on has added to our confidence so now we are playing a lot more confidently."
» Zimmer said he had to give his guys some of that confidence at halftime Sunday after Rivers microwaved a two-minute drill to the one-yard line for a field goal that gave the Chargers a 13-10 lead.
"Everybody is in a freaking panic," Zimmer said. "First thing, I reminded them, let's quit trying to invent stuff. Now they were kind of, 'OK, well I think they are going to do this, so I'm … .' So I had to remind them to do your job and then I had to remind them they had not scored a touchdown yet but it was like we were getting beat 50-12 when we went in the locker room. I said they haven't scored a touchdown, relax and do what you're supposed to do and everything is going to be OK."
» Lewis's message to his players Monday: "Break up the glee club."
"Everybody is patting them on their backs about what they're doing," he said. "Well, we haven't done anything. We just got back to even, and now we have to move forward. These last four are what counts."