Naturally, Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis asked David Pollack to speak to his team. Just as naturally, Pollack nailed just the right vibe like he does as an ESPN college football analyst.
"Live in the moment. Making the most of the moment,' said Pollack as he waited for Lewis and the men to come off the practice field Thursday. "I can talk about how quickly it was gone for me and just maximize it. Live it. Be it."
Has it really been nine years and two weeks since Pollack collided with Browns running back Reuben Droughns right through that door on the Paul Brown Stadium turf, where he broke his neck and had to retire after his 16th game?
In what has amounted to a 10-year anniversary return to the honeymoon, Pollack and wife Lindsey stopped by PBS before he headed to Nippert Stadium to work Thursday night's University of Cincinnati game. They flew in Wednesday from Georgia and drove over the bridge like they did when they were newlyweds and he arrived at his first June camp as the club's first-round pick and starting SAM backer.
Then Thursday morning they visited the first home they ever purchased in West Chester, Ohio.
"Before we left, our son asked us if we were going to the place where he was born," said Pollack of seven-year-old Nicholas. "We told him yes. It brings back a lot of memories. There's no question that you remember it happening, but like everybody else who comes back to where they once lived, it does seem like a long time ago."
There are only two players left from when he played here, left tackle Andrew Whitworth and nose tackle Domata Peko, both rookies when he got hurt in the second game of the 2006 season. Both greeted him as they went into the locker room.
"Let's line it up. Old school," Whitworth said.
"One of Georgia's best ever," Peko told him.
"He has a knack for the media thing," Peko said later. "Just like he did here on the defense. He had a knack for getting it done. Linebacker. Defensive end."
It was little bittersweet. Pollack reiterated what he told Bengals.com last spring in the run up to the 15th anniversary of that 2005 draft the Bengals took him with the 17th pick.
"God has a plan. We're all on a journey to find out what it is. But I expected to be here longer. I wanted to be here longer. They use that pick on you and they put their trust in you and you feel like a failure."
Far from a failure, Pollack, one of the more respected voices in college football, took a spin around the locker room when everyone was on the field and took a look at the names.
"It's funny,' he said with a laugh. "I don't know any of them. But I know all about them because of what they did in college."
HILL RESOLUTE: Jeremy Hill is averaging just 3.5 yards per his 41 carries this season, after a Rookie of the Year-type season he averaged 5.1. But they say he's' still their no. 1 running back.
"I'm not frustrated. We're 3-0," Hill said after Thursday's practice. "I'm just going to keep doing what I've been doing. Keep grinding, keep working hard, keep practicing well and keep assignment sound."
Hill isn't panicking and he isn't moping.
"I'm not getting worked up after three games," he said. "I'm going to keep doing my job and keep doing what got me here. I have no reason to change anything."
Even though he wasn't playing in the fourth quarter as the Bengals came back from not one but two deficits, Hill hardly put his head in the sand. He was one of the first players to greet wide receiver A.J. Green after the 80-yarder that erased the first deficit. He dusted him off after he dusted the Ravens.
"This is a team sport," Hill said. "I'm not here for personal goals or accolades. All I'm trying to do is win football games."
WILLIAMS ON DECK: After three seasons and 35 games, is Shawn Williams about to make his first NFL start at safety after George Iloka (ankle) didn't practice for the second straight day on Thursday when the Bengals play the Chiefs Sunday (1 p.m.-Cincinnati's Channel 12) at Paul Brown Stadium.
Iloka, nursing the injury since the opener, took himself out of last Sunday's game in Baltimore when the ankle didn't respond on some of the plays, such as his attempt to tackle Ravens wide receiver Steve Smith on the fourth-and-five play that turned into a 50-yard touchdown in the middle of the third quarter.
Iloka and Reggie Nelson have been ironmen at safety since Iloka became a starter at the beginning of the 2013 season. Iloka, who played more than 1,000 snaps in each of the last two seasons, has played just 62 percent of the snaps this season as he tries to extend his consecutive starts skein to 36 despite the injury. Nelson is at his usual 95 percent.
After playing a career-high 41 percent of the snaps from scrimmage last season, the special teams maven Williams, a third-round pick in 2013, may be going double-duty.
Also Thursday, starting cornerbacks Adam Jones (elbow) and Dre Kirkpatrick (shoulder) suited up after Jones sat out Wednesday and Kirkpatrick was limited. It sounds like head coach Marvin Lewis is trying to get Darqueze Dennard on the field, a guy that has played just 78 snaps from scrimmage since they took him in the first round in 2014. A total of 17 have come this season with Jones, Kirkpatrick, and slot corner Leon Hall playing well early.
Missing a significant amount of time in both training camps hasn't helped. Now it looks like everyone is healthy and Dennard is going to have to wait again. But Lewis raved about him Wednesday and say he'll get his shot and when he does, he has no problem putting him in there.
"His time will come. We need all these guys. His production in other areas is great, we have to keep it up," Lewis said of Dennard. "He's had a good couple weeks of practice since coming back from injury he suffered in training camp, and that's what you have to do. You have to go and be ready. . . . He'll play just as well as what we're playing, and I feel good about that. He's smart, and he's trained to play a bunch of different sports there, which is good."