Bengals special teams coach Darrin Simmons has already emerged with a teaching tool from the NFL's opening game Thursday night. And it just wasn't Packers rookie Randall Cobb's 108-yard kick return.
"It was how the cover team reacted," Simmons said Friday. "There had been so many touchbacks that they hesitated, even if it was just for a second. That's the lesson. You never know. You have to always play it out."
The offseason rule change that moved the kickoff from the 30-yard line to the 35 did its job Thursday despite Cobb's heroics and jacked the number of touchbacks. But Cobb showed it can still happen.
And, yes, Bengals return man Brandon Tate was watching. Tate, who just arrived here off waivers Sunday with a 103-yarder of his own from last season, echoes Simmons.
"You have to take a chance, he took a chance, and you see what happens," Tate said after Friday's practice. "It was a great play."
Tate says there is no strategy until the ball is in the air.
"You've got to go out there and whatever you see, just work off it," he said.
Tate has hardly been seen in the locker room this week during lunch. He says between peanut butter and jelly sandwiches he's been learning the offense. He's also getting ready to return punts, which he hasn't done with any regularity since his senior year at North Carolina.
"It's the same," he said. "Just put the trust in the other 10 guys and everybody works out as a unit."
LAST THOUGHTS: Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis had a few final pregame thoughts heading into Sunday's game after Friday's practice:
On the impact of the lockout: "You've had more rest. You don't feel like you've felt before. That's the advantage. We have to use that as an advantage."
On his team having something to prove: "Every team has something to prove going into every year. The Packers had something to prove. We're all in the same boat every year."
On having a rookie QB heading into the opener: "It's the one we chose. And for this reason (maturity). So here he is."
On the defense: "We were very poor in our opening game last year defensively. We have to rebound and come out and play this game and put the team on their shoulders."