Best of the Zoom news conferences before the Bengals practiced on Thursday ahead of their Super Bowl LVI berth on Feb. 13 in Los Angles at SoFi Stadium:
Bengals head coach Zac Taylor revealed Thursday that the team is flying to L.A., on Tuesday, the usual off day, so they can have a normal schedule of practice Wednesday through Saturday.
TAYLOR: "It is important as a coaching staff that we're putting our plan in this week. Then if you've got to tweak anything next week, that's great. I think our staff has done a great job of putting pressure on themselves to get it all done, so that our players feel very confident as we get through this week and get on the plane and start to travel that they feel confident about what we're doing."
Coaches and plays know that Bengals president Mike Brown isn't the typical NFL owner and they seem to like it that way.
Wide receiver Tyler Boyd: "The good thing about Mike is I think he's one of the few owners in this league that actually comes to every practice, every walkthrough and is just there supporting the team, no matter what the conditions are. Cold, hot, he's always out there. Every time I go over there and chop it up with him, we just talk football. Like we're friends. He's always been a good guy. Always respectful and I'm very appreciative of the opportunity he gave me."
Taylor: "He has been tremendous. I've been here for three years now. He's one of the most genuine people I've ever been around. He's supportive, understanding, realistic. We have gotten the support from ownership, everything that we've needed to discuss and talk through. They've been nothing but supportive. They've given everything we've needed since I've been here. Certainly, they are as valuable as anything in where we're at today."
OFF THE KUPP
Rams wide receiver Cooper Kupp is an NFL record breaker as well as a game breaker and has a special connection with Taylor from when Taylor was the Rams assistant wide receivers coach and then quarterbacks coach.
Taylor: "He's one of the smartest players I've ever been around at any position. He really approaches the game like a quarterback to be quite honest with you. … I threw to him at his private workout at Eastern Washington. (I) split time with his backup quarterback and we missed one throw on a back- end line, hammer route. I overthrew him and that was the only incompletion of the day.
"Coope (is) a big picture thinker. So he really understands the structure of the defenses, the nuances of the route running. He cares about the run game as well. There's oftentimes he would screenshot pictures of defenses with run thoughts.
"You would wake up the next morning to a midnight text from Cooper Kupp with thoughts on things that could help the offense. He's certainly rare that way. I certainly think highly of him and (wide receiver) Robert Woods. Those were the two guys that are still there that were there when I was there. Eric Yarber, the receivers coach there, has done a tremendous job with that room and I have a lot of respect for those guys."
More Taylor on Kupp: "He has great change of direction. He has really good quickness. He never goes down on first contact. That's one thing if you watch him, he never goes willingly out of bounds. Never goes down on first contact. He's really strong. He's a lot like Ja'Marr (Chase) that way. I think they're very similar in the run-after-the-catch.
"He understands the defense's approach. I always remember he had a lot of conversations with the DBs. What they were thinking. 'When I line up here, what do you think I'm going to do?' He's able to play off a lot of the stuff that he noticed the defense is approaching him with."
Presented by Fifth Third Bank. Check out some of the best snapshots from the Bengals Thursday practice as the team continues to prepare for Super Bowl LVI against the Los Angeles Rams.
Rams cornerback Jalen Ramsey is arguably the best in the league and probably the most versatile because he's liable to line up anywhere. It's a great matchup against the Bengals triple threat at wideout.
Boyd: "I know watching tape that he has (covered one specific player). He has traveled with a guy. He has played both left and right corner. He even has clips of when he was in the slot. He's a guy that can play it all but we're not anticipating guys singling out other guys playing them one-on-one.
"We don't care what's going to happen, how you are going to play us. We're going to continue to play our game. We're not going to not throw (Chase) the ball because Ramsey is on him. However they decide to play, they're going to have to match us."
Taylor: "Jalen is a tremendous player, played against him in Jacksonville, played against him in L.A. when they first acquired him. He's certainly one of the premier players in all of football and that's probably why they move him around because he's so talented.
"He has the ability to play not only on the outside corner, but play inside at nickel and move around and follow guys if needed. A very unique, special skill set. He's a big DB and he has the speed to match and he's physical. He's got great ball skills. He has tremendous instincts, so you can see why they spent what they did to acquire him and why he's played such a major role in them getting to the Super Bowl."
The Rams traded for Patriots running back Sony Michel when starter Cam Akers tore his Achilles'. Now that Akers is miraculously back, the Rams have two capable backs.
Defensive tackle D.J. Reader: "Their offense (does) a good job of working together. The guys up front, they work together. The way they attack double teams, scoop blocks, all that. They do a good job of making sure they don't miss their targets and making sure that the targets are set up well, even when they've got to make adjustments or kill calls and things like that.
"Sony is a one-step cut runner and he gets downhill. He always makes sure he does a good job of falling forward, he's satisfied for two or three yards, he plans on wearing on you down and he's a good back. He has been a good back since college. I've always enjoyed watching him play."
STAYING IN THE LOOP
Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow didn't tell the Bengals to draft Chase. But not only is he glad they did, he's glad that guys like director of player personnel Duke Tobin kept him plugged in leading up to the draft.
BURROW: "The organization did a really good job of making me feel like I was at least kept in the loop about the process. I was in here doing my rehab and Duke would come down and talk to me. They watched this guy and tell me what you think. We're meeting with this guy, I'll let you know how it goes. As quarterbacks across the league, you see some guys getting frustrated. All we want is to have a line of communication in those processes. For me personally, I don't need to feel like I made the decision. You could go with my opinion or without my opinion, it doesn't matter to me. As long as I feel like I'm involved in the process. The organization did a great job with that."
Burrow is famous for his left knee injury that cut short last season. But he has been dealing with a dinged right knee and throwing pinky finger in the playoffs.
Burrow: "The right knee feels great. The pinky is still something I'm dealing with. (It is) something that I'm going to be dealing with for the rest of the season until I can give it a break. I wouldn't say it bothers me too much throwing the football anymore, but I still notice it a little bit just doing everyday things."
STANDOUT SUPER BOWL
Burrow has many family friends from father Jimmy's coaching days and one of them stood out in Super Bowl XLIII.
Burrow: "I watch (the Super Bowl) every year and we'd always get together as friends and watch it. The one that I really remember is when the Cardinals were playing the Steelers and Big Ben made that amazing throw to the back pylon. (Cardinals quarterback) Kurt Warner was always a family friend. My dad was actually on the Iowa Barnstormers staff when Kurt was the quarterback. My family's known Kurt for a long time, so we were cheering for Kurt in that situation."
SUPER BOWL EXPERIENCE
Taylor was part of the Rams coaching staff when they lost to New England in Super Bowl LIII and he signed with the Bengals the next day.
Taylor: "Going through that two-week process, I think that the experience is helpful to direct the guys of what to expect. It has changed. COVID obviously has changed it. We went out on a Sunday and we were there for a week and you had to deal with all the media stuff that came with that.
"I know that's a little bit different nowadays, probably in a better sense for me as a head coach and what our players are going to deal with because there are fewer distractions there. I don't look too much into that process three years ago. There are some things that stand out that I try to be helpful with our players. We've got to find a way to focus on this game."
JOE 'OCHOCINCO' BURROW
Burrow said he wanted to be a running back or a wide receiver in his younger years. Here is what an expert had to say on Burrow's pass-catching potential:
Boyd: "I think he can play (wide receiver) if he had speed. If he had some athletic ability. I feel like any quarterback has the knowledge and the concepts (to) really know how to understand (to play) from a receiver standpoint and vice versa.
"I played a little bit of quarterback in my time and I know where I would want the receivers to be and so forth. Quarterback is the hardest position on the field and not too many people want to pick that position as the first position especially coming into the big league.
"Being the quarterback, to me, is being the best player on the field because they have to worry about (more) stuff. They have to diagnose the most information and they've got to help people line up right or tell them what to do when they have brain farts or don't know what was going on. I applaud anybody for playing quarterback, but I do believe Joe could pull receiver off."
With Cincinnati hit by an ice storm and the Super Bowl set to be played at a warm weather site covered by a canopy, Taylor has moved practice to the University of Cincinnati bubble.
TAYLOR: "This is the first time in a long time we've been playing inside or in warm weather. So this decision was made a long time ago. On top of it, we're having the worst weather we've had from the ice standpoint, from a rain standpoint, snow, so that's obviously helpful as well. But we made this decision long before we knew that was going to be a problem."
READER: "Everything is going to be the same. It's not going to affect the routine at all. We just have to go over to UC for a little bit."