Skip to main content

The Conversation: Orlando Brown Jr. Eyes Bengals Comeback With "Character Of Our Building' 

OT Orlando Brown Jr. looks on during training camp at the Kettering Health Practice Fields on Monday, August 21, 2023
OT Orlando Brown Jr. looks on during training camp at the Kettering Health Practice Fields on Monday, August 21, 2023 senior writer Geoff Hobson's conversation with Bengals four-time Pro Bowl left tackle Orlando Brown Jr. as he preps for a return to Arizona for Sunday's game (4:05 p.m.-Cincinnati's FOX 19) against the Cardinals.

GH: This Sunday you return to the field where you won the Super Bowl last year with the Chiefs. What thoughts are running through your mind?

OB: I can't really say that's been on my mind. Right now, it's all about the next game. Arizona is 1-3 as well, but they're very competitive. They play very hard. I feel like a lot of good can come out of this game for us. I think we have not only a very positive team, but also a team that's very realistic as far as the goals that we set for ourselves, our weekly and daily approach from the coaches and players.

And I feel like we're in a really good headspace and understand our backs are against the wall.

For us to achieve the long-term goals that we have set for ourselves, it starts with winning the day and being present in the moment. It starts on Wednesday and it goes to Thursday, it goes to Friday, it goes to Sunday. Just rinse and repeat. I think the team is in a really good headspace when it comes to understanding the circumstances and where we're at.

GH: A lot of teams at this point, well, you don't hear anybody popping off in the media. A rarity in any era. And a good sign I would think.

OB: It definitely is. I feel like that's one of the reasons I say we've got guys who know what we want to be. We've got good, young veterans in the locker room. Guys who have played a lot of ball, who are young, and very experienced. The mindset is there. I just think that it's all about really taking it to the next level, being in the moment, committing to the day, and I think that will really allow us to take the next step.

GH: You've never started 1-3, but since this is your sixth year in the league, you've seen a lot of bounce-back teams. The Titans were where you were last Tuesday. The NFL is so close, so many of the playoff spots seem to be decided in the last two weeks.

OB: I don't want to look too far ahead because there are so many games we have to win now. But in this league, man. There's no telling. That's the thing about this league, too. You see certain teams come out on fire the first four weeks of the season and it dies off. And you see teams that maybe come out slow and by the time November, December, January, February roll around, nobody wants to see that team during that time period.

I feel like that's something that the Bengals have always kind of done. Maybe not the best of starts, but I mean the way this team finishes. They're playing some of their best football in January. That's from my perspective. From what I've seen. This could really be a big game for us Sunday to give us that spark, that focus we need. There's a lot for us to prove. I think this team responds really well when its back is against the wall.

GH: You make it a point to talk to different guys in the locker room. Have recent conversations reinforced your decision to come here back in March?

OB: Oh, yeah, definitely. I would sign here again if they told me we're going 8-9. For me, it's the character of the men in this locker room and the character of our building. Our coaches, our front office, our ownership, the type of people that we're dealing with on a daily basis is what makes it special to be a Bengal. I've got all the confidence in the world in this team, this unit. There's a lot of light at the end of the tunnel. I think we'll definitely get things turned around. It's going to be a lot of fun.

GH: One of the stats had you was giving up two pressures in 36 pass blocks last Sunday in Tennessee against a defense that came in top ten in the NFL in sacks per pass. The sack you allowed came when the score was 27-3 and they were just all-out rushing. But I'm guessing the score doesn't matter to you on a sack.

OB: No, I never want to rely on that. That's not me. I was brought in here to do my job at a really high level and Sunday wasn't good enough. Not even close. It's all about focus and all-out committing. Making sure I'm at my best no matter the circumstances any Sunday.

GH: What do you do after a game like that to get ready again?

OB: Sometimes it's as simple as you get what you put out. Sometimes I may need more film study. I may need to lock in more in certain practice reps. Or whatever it is. Just taking that focus and that intensity to the next level. I don't try to change things around too often. I would say I just try to put more into it.

GH: What did you do on your off day?

OB: I came in, watched a little film, got a little therapy. I do that every Tuesday.

GH: What film were you watching?

OB: Studying a little bit of the Cardinals' last game.

GH: Who do you have?

OB: I'll see a few different guys. 52, 97, 45, 25. (Outside backer Victor Dimukeje, outside backer Cameron Thomas, outside backer Dennis Gardeck, linebacker Zaven Collins). They played San Francisco a little differently, obviously being a divisional opponent on top of the personnel that San Francisco has. The Cardinals ran a lot of base defense against San Francisco.

But in passing situations, I don't think they'll attack us similarly. I think we'll be seeing a lot of games and we'll be seeing a lot of power rushes outside. Individually I haven't really broken them all down to a tee yet. I feel like 45 (Gardeck) is their best rusher.

GH: You talk to your quarterback a lot. How is Joe Burrow doing?

OB: When I'm speaking on the character of the team, it starts with him. He's a guy, when his back is against the wall, when he's got to go out and prove it, this is who he is. This is when he brings out his swag, his confidence, his best. He seems OK. Obviously, he's disappointed with the way things have been going. I feel like he's very confident, very focused.

GH: They're blitzing him. They're bringing a lot of pressure and I guess you figure they'll keep doing that if they know the quarterback is dinged up.

OB: They'll try to put him in those situations and other people will attack us like that until we show them we can stop it. That's just the way this league goes. It's a copycat league on both sides of the ball. I start with myself. I have to play better for us, for Joe no matter how he's feeling, no matter what the circumstances are.

He's a competitor. That's what he does. He gets after it. He loves the game of football. He loves playing with his guys, his teammates. This is what he does. It's important to him. He's not a guy who is ever going to take a backseat and not go out there and play unless his calf was falling off the bone. He's going to get in that groove. He's going to get in that feeling, putting the ball where he wants and start scoring those touchdowns. We've got some special talent and he's one of the best quarterbacks in the world.

GH: Last week you had your first event at Paycor Stadium as an Ohio ambassador raising awareness for the Greater Cincinnati chapter of the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation.

OB: It was awesome. We had a really good turnout. A ton of young kids with their family members. It's always been important to me to just be able to give back in that area. My brother Justin was diagnosed when he was eight years old. I was nine. My dad passed of ketoacidosis, which is like a form of a diabetic coma when I was 15. It's a disease a lot of people deal with, especially in the black community.

GH: Have you been diagnosed with diabetes?

OB: I have not. I entered a medical trial called TrailNet for type 1 diabetes. Basically, they draw your blood and let you know if you have the antibodies or not of type 1. My test came back negative.

GH: I guess that test is a must if anyone in your family has it.

OB: Absolutely. Even if you don't have diabetes in your bloodlines. Because type 1 is an autoimmune disease, so a lot of times it's not genetic.

GH: You've been heavily involved with this cause throughout your career, even in college.

OB: I've been able to do so many different things this offseason. I was able to go to D.C. for Children's Congress to basically fight with the kids to make insulin more affordable.

GH: Did you appear before a congressional committee? What's tougher? Going in front of Congress or blocking on an NFL third-and-long?

OB: It was in the Capitol. I personally didn't speak, but I was there at the meeting. It was really cool. I'd say there were close to 100 kids. The government gives a loan to JDRF to help find a cure for type 1 and I help advocate for that.

GH: Did you meet anybody from Congress?

OB: I met (U.S. Sen.) Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio). I had a chance to speak with him one-on-one. I sat down with him and some of the other kids. He had a lot of insight, too, into the things that he's done.

GH: Did you talk football?

OB: A little bit. I feel like he's a Buckeyes fan. He might be a Bengals fan. He mentioned to me he's been to a game or two.

Related Content