The Bengals secondary has rallied to cornerback Mackensie Alexander during a difficult time back home in Florida.
According to a published report, the Collier County Sheriff's Office arrested Alexander after he confronted a man whom allegedly joined Alexander's father to pick berries. Jean Odney Alexandre has been missing since Monday and reports say the search has involved police and officers from the Florida Wildlife Commission using dogs and helicopters.
Bengals defensive coordinator Lou Anarumo and two of his players didn't want to say much in Wednesday's Zoom calls with Anarumo referring questions to head coach Zac Taylor. But safety Jessie Bates III and cornerback Darius Phillips have been in touch via the secondary's group text.
"This game of football is something that we do every day but family is very important," Bates said. "The whole group texted him in the group message and everything, just reaching out to him, making sure he has our support. I'm not going to speak on it much, but he has our support. I hope that God be with him and his family."
Phillips, who is probably going to replace Alexander in the slot in Wednesday afternoon's practice, said he reached out to him Tuesday night.
"My thoughts and prayers are with him," Phillips said. "Everything else, we are leaving it up to the coaches to answer that. But my thoughts and prayers are with him and his family."
BENGALS REACT OT NO FANS IN THE OPENER: The mother of Bengals free safety Jessie Bates III got the word so fast that fans won't be able to attend the Sept. 13 opener against the Chargers at Paul Brown Stadium that he wondered if Bengals president Mike Brown called her himself.
Bates' family is always a lock to make the three-hour trip from Fort Wayne, Ind., and he says she'll still make the trip to Cincinnati to watch games.
"She was pretty pissed about it, but I'm sure she'll be at my house," Bates said.
Bates says it will separate the men from the boys, the guys that play for the crowd and the glitz and the guys that play for the game's sake.
"I think it'll show who's really here for football and not for all the fame and the fans and stuff like that," Bates said. "I think it will be more like a scrimmage type of vibe. But it's going to be very challenging for guys who play for fans and all the hype and stuff like that. It'll be easier to lock in, I think."
There will be some noise. There is talk of a three-hour audio loop running through the speakers throughout the game. They can't remember the last time they played in front of just coaches, but then, when it's a job …
"I'll be playing in front of a few people today," Bates said of the Wednesday afternoon practice.
They say you play like you practice.
"We practice in front of no one every day," Phillips said. "We just go out there and do the same thing, feed off each other's energy. Every play someone makes a play, we'll feed off of that like the crowd is there.
"We love the fans, and especially the Cincinnati Bengals fans. We would love for them to be there to support us. But at the end of the day, it's football, so we have to go out there and do our jobs. But the team, we're going to bring our own juice every time. We would love for the fans to be here, but we're still going to come out here and give our all."
CORNER DEPTH TAKE A HIT: The Bengals are suddenly down two corners with their top two veteran corner free-agents not here with Alexander home and Trae Waynes recovering from pectoral surgery. While they may still be looking, they did add another safety when they signed a former Anarumo player from the Dolphins in Maurice Smith. Smith played two years for the Dolphins and last year in Washington and has played in 15 NFL games.
"He's one of the few guys that's played at Georgia and Alabama in college so he's played big time college football. He has a bunch of NFL snaps under his belt," Anarumo said. "He's a tough kid. He's got very good ball skills. He's a try-hard guy and I like the kid, so we'll see how it goes from there."
GREEN TO WORK ON A LIMITED BASIS: Look for wide receiver A.J. Green to work only in individuals Wednesday as they ease him in very slowly. Don't look for him in Sunday evening's scrimmage.