The Bengals have three defensive tackles that at one time or another have appeared on a credible top 100 list of NFL players. Tyler Boyd, the Bengals' two-time 1,000-yard wide receiver, thinks he and two-time 1,000-yard running back Joe Mixon should have made one last year.
According to Elias, thanks to Mixon and Boyd the Bengals were the only NFL team in both 2018 and 2019 to have a 1,000-yard rusher and 1,000-yard receiver.
"I feel like we deserve to be talked about a lot more and other players as well," Boyd said during Thursday's Zoom media call. "But I think they treat players in the same category as record, which I understand because you have to win to build that publicity and build that respect for yourself and that's what I'm all about. So, if that's what it takes for us to get talked about then it's time for us to start winning.
"But you know, I'm all about the respect. You have to respect players. That's legit guys in this league. I've done it. A.J. (Green) was down two years and I still piled up 1,000. Joe missed (two) games and still had 1,000 (in 2018-19). He came on big at the end of the year. If not both of us, at least one of us should've been in the top 100."
Certainly Boyd believes Mixon should have. In the eight games over the second half of the season, only the Titans' Derrick Henry rushed for more yards than Mixon. Profootballfocus.com rated Mixon sixth in the league for yards after contact and fifth in avoided tackles after a rush.
Boyd admires that hard running. He himself, according to PFF, had the third most yards in the slot last season and fifth most catches.
"I feel like I'm one of the top receivers that show consistency and show I'm a reliable guy," Boyd said. "I understand my touchdowns weren't that high (five), so I think they base it off total numbers. As a player, I feel I should be in the top 100."
As for Mixon, well, if you follow Boyd on Twitter you know how he feels about him.
"He's basically an all-around back. He can pass protect. He can catch out of the backfield. He can make you miss," Boyd said. "He makes things out of nothing most of the time. I play with him each and every day. I practice with him. I see it. Its like, 'How doesn't everybody see it on Sunday?' If not me in the top 100, he should definitely be in there with no questions."
The Bengals put helmets on for the first time Thursday.
While they kept it pretty much contained to position work, the skill guys did get to throw it around in front of the coaches. But rookie quarterback Joe Burrow was apparently down two wide receivers.
Boyd alluded to rookie Tee Higgins being slightly behind because he's sitting out of practice with what Boyd indicated was a minor injury. It's believed Higgins tweaked a hamstring but it's not considered serious and he should be back out there soon.
And John Ross, according to reports, has been called back to Los Angeles to deal with the Covid-19 cases of his son and the son's mother. Boyd and Ross are neighbors in Northern Kentucky and are good friends.
'"We were just texting. I didn't really want to call and just hear his voice because I didn't want him to feel down on himself," Boyd said. "I just want him to take his time. I know he's strong and he's going to be able to provide for his family and things like that, but I know a lot of guys was hitting him and reaching out to him. We were texting a couple times back and forth and I just wanted him to just be with his family and just worry about it [football] whenever things start to get better."
The Bengals put the pads on Tuesday as they shoot to scrimmage on Friday.
That will be a reminder that maybe the biggest reason they dropped all that money in free agency is to stop the run, which they haven't done in three years.
D.J. Reader, the man the Bengals made the highest-paid nose tackle in the NFL, gets it that it all starts Tuesday. Even more so because there are exactly 0.0 pre-season games to sharpen tackling. Reader seems most concerned about simulating game tackling speed before the opener for the young players.
And with rookie linebackers Logan Wilson and Akeem Davis-Gaither playing a ton, practice is going to have to be more than practice.
"You also get to build your confidence in preseason. You start off playing against guys you used to play against in college. You move up, you move up, steady up, then ball doesn't feel as fast for you," Reader said. "It really helped me my rookie year and my second year. Just being able to get out there and get that shock to your pads it definitely helped. We did a lot of joint practices in Houston which helped a lot which was a little bit different. Then with this year not having any of that stuff we are really going to have to get after it in practice. I don't think it's an excuse. Nobody is going to feel sorry for anybody not having an opportunity because everybody has the same one. So you got to get after it in practice and know this is what we are competing for. We are competing to be better. "
Reader seems intent on taking the lead in emphasizing the run must be stopped despite the obstacles.
"That's the way it works. What you have to go out there for every day. You have to go get it," Reader said. "Nobody is going to care. There are 31 other teams out there dealing with the same elements and they are going to practice hard. You think they are going to stop running the ball just because you don't got the opportunity to practice you are crazy. You better get out there and practice playing the run."
Boyd has just begun chemistry classes with Burrow.
Here are his notes so far:
"Just the confidence, man. I can just tell by his swag and his whole demeanor just how he goes about himself. One thing on the field, man, he's very vocal," Boyd said. "So that's a great start. He's not shying away from none of the competitiveness and shying away from the position that we want him to be in. I feel like he's handling everything pretty well.
"The No. 1 thing with me in correlation with the quarterback is just the timing. How he puts the zip on the ball and how quickly he releases the ball. That's the number one thing with me. Secondly, how hard is he throwing it? How fast I have to get my hands up and things like that. So far, he's been on point to me. Once Sunday comes I can get a better detail of him."
Sunday looks to be the first day the Bengals go out on the field in shells.
Freshly-signed defensive tackle Mike Daniels has plenty of good things to say about the Marvin Lewis Bengals.
But he's also seen enough and heard enough from his new teammates to be impressed with the program head coach Zac Taylor is building in his second season.
"You see the trend in the NFL with younger coaches. He seems like a guy, and it's been confirmed by some of the players, that he really cares about his players. He's what the guys would consider a players' coach," Daniels said. "It doesn't mean he's soft. It doesn't mean he's not going to work guys hard. It means he really has players' best interests at hand. He wants to make sure everyone is good to go for game day. He doesn't do any unnecessary time in the building. He wants guys to be sharp in the building. To be efficient and he believes in quantity over quality. As anybody can tell you in the NFL, when you do overdo things it has an adverse effect."
View some of the best images from the Bengals workout on Thursday, Aug. 13, presented by Gatorade.