Bengals Pro Bowl left tackle Orlando Brown Jr. doesn't miss games. He's only missed one during his six NFL seasons and with big-money sacker Nick Bosa and prototype left tackle Trent Williams looming in San Francisco Sunday (4:25-Cincinnati's Local 12), he says he won't miss that one, either.
Brown didn't practice Monday when head coach Zac Tayor welcomed the Bengals back from the bye with a brisk one-hour workout on the Paycor Stadium field, but Brown said he'll be ready by the Bay.
"I do (plan to play). I feel great with an extra week of rest," said Brown, who reaggravated a groin injury last week on the fifth play against Seattle and gutted it out for 32 more snaps before going to the bench late in the third quarter. "This is just an extra day of rest for me."
With the Bengals off Tuesday, the Wednesday practice marks the 10th day since the win over the Seahawks. No doubt it's going to be focused on stopping Bosa and a 49ers' pass rush that goes into Monday night's game in Minnesota leading the NFL in quarterback knockdowns, according to Pro Football Reference.
Bosa, the second pick in the 2019 draft, Joe Burrow buddy, three-time Pro Bowler, and recently-minted $170 million man as the richest defensive player in history, leads the NFL in QB knockdowns despite not agreeing to the deal until four days before the opener.
"I can't remember how much they paid him," Brown said Monday. "He's worth every penny. He and his brother (the Chargers' Joey) do a really good job of doing the little things right. They do a great job with their hands. Very accurate and very active, which is a rare combination that you don't see with a lot of guys with that type of athleticism. Very fundamental."
But as much as Brown savors the matchup ("You have to love going against the best"), he may not see Nick Bosa all that much. According to Matt Maiocco of NBC Sports Bay Area, Bosa has lined up 183 times this season over the right tackle and 103 over the left, depending on how the matchup is going.
When the 49ers played Brown's Chiefs last season in a Kansas City win, Pro Football Focus had Bosa for a sack and hurry and Brown for allowing two hurries. In Bosa's rookie season of 2019 when Brown's Ravens beat the 49ers, Bosa had a hurry and Brown allowed two hurries.
One Bengals offensive line starter is left from Bosa's field day at Paycor in the 49ers' overtime win in 2021. PFF has Bosa for two sacks and seven hurries in that game. Bengals right tackle Jonah Williams, who played left that day, didn't allow a sack.
Obviously, Brown won't go against Trent Willaims, listed as doubtful with an ankle injury in Minnesota. But he's taken many notes on the 14th-year player whose peers voted the 14th-best player in this year's top 100 players.
"Plainly put, he's the best in the game right now," Brown said. "He's earned the respect from his peers, his coaches, the media, and all that with his consistency over the last nine years (he's been voted to the last eight Pro Bowls). It definitely gets you fired up.
"He's a refrigerator on wheels. I wish I was half as athletic as that. He sets the edge and he's fundamentally sound in pass pro with his hands. I study him a little bit, but I don't emulate him so much because my game is a lot different. We're also playing in slightly different systems. I really like what he does on the back side on the cut-offs, with the trap techniques and snatching guys to the ground. That's one of the things I applied to my game a little bit."
BROWN STEERS FORD: Brown put on his coaching hat when he got hurt a week ago Sunday and tutored his old Oklahoma college chum through the last 17 snaps of the game, which turned out to be Cody Ford's first NFL turn at left tackle in his 56th pro game. Brown didn't leave the field for the tub.
"He was like, 'Listen, this is what they're doing, this is what you can do.' From the second I knew I was going in, he gave me tips and tells on how to attack those guys and how to work my reps," Ford said. "After every drive he was talking to me, telling me what I could have done better, what looked good. He was constantly in my ear.
"It speaks true to him, what type of guy (Brown) is. He's not going to leave the team out there, he's not going to be that guy that's going to make it all about him. He wants to show his guys even when he's down we have his support. He has our back just like we have his."
The move to Ford revealed what the Bengals knew at the end of the preseason. Ford, signed to a one-year-prove-it deal at right tackle after three years as a back-up guard in Buffalo and Arizona, won the third tackle job ahead of 2021 draft picks Jackson Carman and D'Ante Smith.
And it's all just as Ford envisioned before free agency started. He told his agent to sell him as a tackle rather than as a guard and the Bengals, impressed enough with Ford in the 2019 draft to try and trade up to get him, were intrigued.
"That was a big proponent for me to sign," said Ford of the Bengals' confidence in his ability to play tackle.
Plus, a week before he even had the visit lined up with the Bengals, Ford shot a text to Brown and said they should re-unite in Cincinnati.
"He didn't return the text. I was … hurt," joked Ford.
But when he was flying to Cincinnati, he saw where the Bengals had signed Brown.
"I play best and perform best with a team that has a lot of structure. Has a standard," Ford said. "You could tell from the outside looking in (the Bengals) hold them accountable for things. It's player-driven. I think ZT and (Bengals president) Mike Brown, before I got here, had a tremendous organization going and team. I talked to some guys who have been here and that were still here, and everything held true to what I thought. That's the place I want to be."
FORD RUNS SMOOTH: Orlando Brown Jr. tried to explain how hard it was for Ford to do what he did against Seattle; which is to come off the bench for his NFL left tackle debut and not allow a pressure on 11 passes.
The last game he played left tackle?
"High school," said Ford of a Louisiana playoff game his Pineville team lost to Destrehan by 54.
No such story at Paycor.
"To do it on the big stage," Ford said, "I think I held my own and did exactly what the coaching staff expected me to do."
Brown shook his head.
"Come in cold like that in the middle of the game," Brown said. "He was prepared. He didn't have time to settle in and get in a rhythm or anything. It's crunch time and he showed out in an important situation for us.
"He's always been a hard worker. Tremendous focus. Incredible love of the game," said Brown, who played left tackle in Norman for a year next to Ford at left guard. "He's always been super physical and a nasty player."
SLANTS AND SCREENS: Big road wins coming out of the bye the last two seasons have fueled the Bengals' runs to the AFC North title and the AFC championship game. In '21, they beat a fellow 5-4 AFC team in Las Vegas. In Pittsburgh last year they rung up 37 points without Ja'Marr Chase. Now the big, bad 49ers wait Sunday on the Bay.
"There's no carryover," said slot cornerback Mike Hilton. "We know we can do it if we do our job, execute, and make plays. We know it's not going to be easy, but we're confident."
Taylor has made it clear each team, each scenario, each year is different.
"It does feel separate. I don't look back at those two games necessarily. I couldn't even have told you, to be honest with you, who we played last year coming out of the bye," said Taylor, who knows now because he went back last week and researched some things.
"I think it's the character of our team. They get a week off, they handle it the right way, they do the right things, they take care of their bodies, they're mentally refreshed knowing that we've got a gauntlet here of 11 games going down the stretch. Those guys come out of it fresh, ready to roll, thankful that they're in it, and they get to keep playing good football." …
Bengals offensive coordinator Brian Callahan made some news last week when he went after the Bengals offense publicly. It is nothing he didn't say in quite the candid offensive meeting last Monday before they broke for the bye. He broke down specific plays from the win over Seattle and didn't leave anyone out.
It was appreciated by Brown, a defending Super Bowl champion.
"I have the utmost respect for B.C. The way he carries himself and handles his business. I can't say enough great things about him," Brown said. "That meeting was somewhat needed. Make sure everyone had their mind right. Especially heading into the bye. Everybody got it, but that's how it should be.
"He was just being honest. You need those things at times. I believe every man in this locker room holds themselves accountable … To have B.C. call us out, kind of let guys know in front of our coaches and our peers (is good). 'Hey, this has to be better. This has to be better. This is good, but this can be better.'" …