Players, Coaches Thoughts After Preseason Week 4



AUG. 29, 2019



Head coach

Initial Comments ...

"We challenged these guys at halftime to come out in the second half on defense and create some turnovers. We said we needed a big spark on special teams. We needed to create some more yardage in the run game. And, really, the guys came out and met that challenge in all three phases. I was proud of those guys for that. We got down to a fourth and goal on the one, with the chance to go down one, and go for two and try to win the game there. Unfortunately, we came up a little short. Again, this team's got some great heart, and it was good to see these guys compete. Some guys stepped up and made plays, and I was encouraged by a lot of that tonight."

Is there any further update on Rodney Anderson, who left the game with a right knee injury?

"No update. I don't want to speculate yet. He's got a tough injury history, so I don't want to speculate as to what it might be."

What did you see tonight out of HB Quinton Flowers?

"Quinton has made some good plays. In the second half, someone's got to step up, make somebody miss, make a big play in the pass game. He made a couple miss in the run game. I thought the linemen did a great job creating some holes there. In the second half, they stepped up and did a nice job. So, it was good to see us make a play. Unfortunately, he scored a touchdown... and then he didn't. That was tough."

What was your take on the offensive pass interference penalty on the nullified TD?

"That was tough. That is really tough. A receiver gets engaged at the line of scrimmage, and he's not just going to stop. He's going to keep trying to run his route. And, they flagged him for OPI. That's going to be a tough way for a lot of people to lose touchdowns on the one-yard line, if that's the way it goes. That's a tough one for us to stomach there."

WR Ventell Bryant has been one that's been talked about lately. What are your choices in that group?

"Yeah, they've made it hard on us — all of those guys. They've stepped up and made plays. Again, I've said this many times, but Bob (wide receivers coach Bob Bicknell) and Dan (assistant quarterbacks coach Dan Pitcher) have done a great job in that room of making everybody game-ready. And those guys have all stepped up when their numbers were called. So, you're right, it's created some hard decisions. We'll see where that goes. They all stepped up and made plays when their number was called."

Are there any guys on the bubble that impressed you tonight?

"I didn't want to speculate as to who's on the bubble and who wasn't. It'll be good to watch over the tape tomorrow, and we'll have some tough decisions to make these next two days. Again, I'm proud of everyone who walked out there tonight. We challenged guys just to have fun and not be afraid to make a play. If you make a mistake, just rebound on the next one. I saw a lot of that tonight. We didn't score a lot of points, but I saw a lot of heart from these guys."

Who will you need to see tape on to make some choices?

"I thought Darius Phillips made some nice plays. It was good to see him rebound. On special teams, in particular, he made some good plays. He was one guy that I feel stood out. Ventell Bryant made some nice plays there. So, guys continued to step up from all over the place."

WRs Cody Core and Josh Malone were still in the game at the end. Why was that?

"We had three receivers at that point. Jordan Franks went in there a little bit and played receiver, basically. But, that's just where we were. We didn't have enough bodies, so that had to play out that whole game."

LB Malik Jefferson didn't play tonight and wasn't on the sideline. Why?

"That was a non-football deal. I don't have more information at this time."

When it comes to the defensive line, DT Renell Wren and DE Andrew Brown really seemed to push the pocket. Did you like what you saw from them tonight?

"I did. Those two guys you mentioned, you try to put an eye on them as the games go on, and I did see them try to create some pressure. They might not have gotten the sack, necessarily, but they made the quarterback uncomfortable. We had to get off the spot a little bit and move around. I thought they did a nice job putting pressure on the quarterback."

How do you feel about your defensive backfield?

"I feel good about the starting crew that we've got. Guys have battled for those backup jobs. We haven't yet seen Will (CB William Jackson) and Dre (CB Dre Kirkpatrick) on the field at the same time yet. So it'll be good to get those guys out there playing together. They do it every day in practice, but it'll be nice to get that whole starting unit out there together. I like where we're at there."

With all the injuries, do you have to go to the waiver wire for help?

"We'll leave all of our options open. Duke and that crew do a great job of scouring at every position and having conversations about if we upgrade at that position or not. They've done a great job already this last week, so we'll see where it goes."

How did you feel about QB Jake Dolegala's performance?

"Jake did a good job all preseason. He's a good kid who goes about it the right way, full-form. And, he let us down there at the end of the game, to have a chance to win it. Unfortunately, we couldn't punch it in. But, I'm proud of the way that Jake's performed."

How would you summarize the preseason?

"'Necessary' would be the word I'd use. Every practice and every game, we needed up to this one. I've been encouraged by the progress that our guys have made. Our guys are playing with a lot of confidence right now. We're not seeing many mental errors. Now, in the preseason games, we haven't had complex schemes on either side of the ball. But, even in practice, our guys have been really sharp and understand what we're trying to achieve in all three phases. So, I'm pleased with where we're at. Now we'll start game-planning for Seattle, and our players will be exposed to some things that way. That's the exciting part of the preseason, being done, because now you get the chance to focus on the next phase of this season."

You've done a good job of keeping the offense vanilla. Was the plan on fourth and one to just run it and not show anybody anything?

"Yes. To answer your question"

It wasn't very inspirational ...

"Thank you. I'll give you the call sheet next game (laughs)."



Assess your performance tonight ...

"I thought I did a decent job. I left some plays out there on the field. As a whole, there were a few mental mistakes I want back. It was simple stuff too. I have to do a better job of focusing after each play and moving on to the next one."

What are you referencing, as far as mental mistakes?

"There were some pre-snap things I could have done better. I thought I did a good job of diagnosing man or zone."

Did you feel more comfortable than at the end of the game last week?

"I did. More reps make me more comfortable. I started off well then kind of slowed down in the middle. We were trying to get that run game going. We had some impressive plays and made adjustments at halftime, and that's what I think opened things up for us in the fourth quarter."

Were they adjustments to blocking patterns?

"Yes there were certain looks we were trying to get."

How much freedom did you have at the line of scrimmage?

"There's some. There are some things I can handle, and I did decent at it tonight. There were a few pre-snap things I need to improve on. It's different, but the more reps the more comfortable you get."

Red-zone struggles left a lot of points off the board ...

"That was a sore spot for us. When you get down there, you expect to score or at least come away with three. But we didn't do a good enough job. It was a combination of things, but I can play better down there. We wanted to put a touchdown on the board."

Do you think you put good tape out there and gave it everything you had?

"Yeah I did. I hope they look at the film and see some of my talent. We'll see what happens, because it's up to them, and not me. I did everything I could."



How was it to deal with your injury?

"We thought it was a kidney stone but it turned out to be an abdominal strain. It was good news to hear that."

Do you feel good about your tape tonight?

"I hope so. Coach Turner knows I can play anywhere on the line. At Texas A&M, he put me everywhere except center. When I got here, he put me at center. He knows my versatility, and I hope that helps so I can continue my career."

With film on tape, there are ways to continue your NFL career, ranging from other teams, to practice squad, to the Bengals. That's the goal, right? To get noticed?

"Absolutely. I hope I did what I could tonight to show teams that I'm an NFL player, and that I can play somewhere at some time."

The offense failed to punch it in a couple of times in the red zone ...

"When you get down there, you have to score. Especially inside the 25. You have to make those points count."

The offensive pass interference was a dicey call. What are your thoughts?

"I don't know much about receivers and their rules there. You want to get that one. It was hard to see. We've had a couple tough calls go that way in preseason. It's tough to see."


Tight end

How exciting is it to have a new staff and all this change?

"It's exciting, regardless. I think any time you get out of the preseason you're ready to play someone else. You hope to play for more than 16 games. The new coaching staff brings new energy obviously, and we felt it in OTAs and camp. There was new energy in the locker room, but now it's business as usual going into the regular season."

Are people waiting to see what this team will look like?

"You have to ask other people. I know what we're capable of. I've seen us in practice when we're running on all cylinders. I know what I'm looking for and what I expect of us. I think the majority of the city and skeptics are looking at us unsure what we'll do. I don't know about them. I know what we have in this locker room, what we've done in practice, and what we're capable of."


Wide receiver

Tonight was the final game to make an impression on the coaching staff. How much of that played into how well you played tonight?

"I wanted to come out tonight and get them all. With my circumstances, everything is about opportunity, and when I get the opportunity, I feel like I take advantage of it. That's what I want to show the Bengals' coaches and the other NFL teams — I'm a player in this league, and I can play in this league. I'm very grateful for today. I bounced back from last week and got a little bit more this week. I wanted to show the coaches that I can do it in back-to-back weeks. That's big for me, and I'm very confident in my ability. I'm just grateful."

How much of a help was it to get that many reps in a game?

"It was very helpful. I've been working mostly with the third team in training camp, and I get a few reps here and there. A lot of guys went down and the mentality is 'next man up.' I knew what today was going to bring, and I wanted to stay composed and focused on what I have to do and execute."

How much does a deep wide receiver room help you and help to push you?

"In our group, we think of it as competing. Compete each and every day and the may the best man win. We have the mind set of taking it one day at a time. Guys get dinged up, and the next guy can step up make those same exact plays. We are a family and we have a brotherhood in that room. We just bounce off of each other and we have a lot of energy. It's fun playing with these guys."

What are the next couple days going to be like as you wait for Saturday's roster cuts?

"I have no idea, but I'm going to be by my phone. I'm going to think the best and know that with this opportunity, I did the best I could to bring my game to light. I wanted to show the coaches that even though I wasn't the most highly talked about, I came in every day and competed. I played all three positions this preseason, and that shows versatility. Last week I played Z, the second preseason game I played X, and this game I played F. I learned the role of the F receiver in one week, and I did pretty well with it. I got back there on kick returns, also, and I've never returned kicks in my life. I wanted to get back there and show the coaches I can do whatever they ask of me."


Defensive back

Tonight was the last chance to make an impression. How much did that played into your performance?

"I wanted to go out and have a great game and put it all together. In the first game, I played well on defense, but not on special teams. In the second game I got hurt, so I was limited. In the third preseason game, I couldn't do anything because I was still injured. I wanted to go out and show the team and the Bengals what I can do when I showcase my talents."

Why were you able to showcase your skills more tonight than in other games?

"I was more focused this game and more in tune. I had a talk with the defensive coordinator (Lou Anarumo) and my position coach (secondary/cornerbacks coach Daronte Jones), and I wanted to let it all out. Shout out to Darrin (special teams coordinator Darrin Simmons) and Brayden (assistant special teams coach Brayden Coombs) for keeping faith in me. I went out and dropped two punts (in Preseason Week 1), and normally you'd get pulled after that. They showed faith in me and I didn't want to let them down, so I went out there and gave it my all."

What did Zac Taylor say to the team at halftime regarding the running game and special teams?

"We went into it wanting to score a certain amount of touchdowns on defense and special teams. Whenever I get my opportunity, I want to make something happen for the team on defense or special teams. Like I said, I want to help the team out in any way I can."

How much does standing out on special teams help your cause in making the roster as a defensive back?

"I think it stands out a lot just because I do a lot on special teams — kick return and punt return. I think it adds value to any position. Going out there and getting things done on special teams has definitely helped me at my position."


Wide receiver

What did you put into this game knowing it was the last chance to showcase your abilities?

"Everything. We got a lot of playing time and tape to show this team and every other team, so I just put it all out there."

Has the deep wide receiving core helped you at all?

"Oh, yeah. Competition makes you better every day, especially with your peers. We all want each other to play well, so we all know it's bound to happen. We always want to make each other better."

How much of an adjustment was it to play with Jake after playing with the first and second teams throughout training camp and preseason?

"It was an adjustment, but it's part of the job, so you have to deal with it. I feel like everybody in the room did what they had to do."

What are the next couple days going to be like for you?

"You just hope for the best for your brothers that you've worked with all offseason and in the preseason. We bonded well, so I'm sure we will see each other down the road. I wish the best for everybody."