BOCA RATON, Fla. - The Ryan Shazier hit might have been zapped by his own NFL Competition Committee this week at the NFL's annual owners meeting.
But since it was too late for his Bengals, head coach Marvin Lewis barely acknowledged it Tuesday and that's how he says his team is going to respond to the excruciating loss to the Steelers in the Wild Card Game.
"The challenge is to start fresh. The only hangover is with you guys who keep repeating the same questions," Lewis said at the AFC Coaches media breakfast. "I don't think the players hear it. I don't think players are listening. They don't listen to me so I don't think they listen to you."
Lewis, heading into his 14th season, second only to New England's Bill Belichick in the NFL, says it's easy to prepare for another new challenge.
"It's preparing for this season and whoever the schedule says we open up with. That's the thing. We're going to play the NFC East and the AFC East and our division," he said. "So we know there are big, huge challenges ahead. As well as the Denver Broncos, who were world champions. And whoever else we play that won their division, the Houston Texans. We've got big challenges ahead."
Other topics Lewis broached during the breakfast:
-As a member of the NFL Competition Committee, he says there are three significant rule proposals up for a vote by the owners this week: moving up a touchback to the 25-yard line from the 20, abolishing the chop block, and allowing an automatic ejection from a game by a coach or player for two specific unsportsmanlike conduct penalties in the same game.
He says the first two help keep the character of the game with a nod to player safety and the ejection rule is needed to get the game back on track when it comes to the safety of the integrity of the game.
"I think it will increase the respect for the game, respect for each other, respect for other players which is what we're looking for," Lewis said. "Game officials, etcetera. It started with a much broader scope and as we continue to meet about it and talk about on the competition committee we kind of narrowed the scope this way to not basically include the live play of real football, but things outside of football."
-Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin, also a member of the committee, agreed with Lewis and almost used the exact same words about the rule. Asked if he thinks the chippiness of the last two Bengals-Steelers games that have been fraught with fines and flags will continue, Lewis said, "No, not that way. I expect the rivalry to continue."
-Lewis says re-signing safety Reggie Nelson and signing a veteran receiver such former as Patriot Brandon La Fell still appear to be options.
-Lewis, who accompanied WILL backer Vontaze Burfict to his late January meeting with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell to discuss his three-game suspension for repeated safety violations, thinks it helps Goodell got a closer look.
"I think everybody recognizes Vontaze's ability," he said. "Roger just wanted to empower him to continue to be the player that he is and make sure that you respect the opponent and the game at all times."
_The fifth-year anniversary of the 2011 Draft is getting a lot of play because it produced so may Pro Bowlers and the Bengals might have been the biggest winners with the drafting of A.J. Green at No. 4 and Andy Dalton at No. 35. They haven't missed the postseason since.
But if quarterback Cam Newton had somehow slid past Carolina at No. 1 . . .
"When Cam came out in 2011 he was such an impressive, in my mind, kid. We spent a lot of time with him. We had the fourth pick so had Carolina passed on him likely he would have been a Cincinnati Bengal if he got to us," Lewis said. "We had done a lot of work with him and on him and spent a lot of time with him and his family. I was at Auburn a couple times He was in Cincinnati (for a pre-draft visit)."
-Here is why Lewis is adamant in not trading backup quarterback Andy Dalton:
"Because he's exactly what we look for to be a replacement quarterback if we needed it," Lewis said. "We never found one until now. That's what we feel good about."
-It's not that Marvin Jones is dead to him, but Lewis didn't have a lot to tell the Detroit media about their new wide receiver who stunned the Bengals when he left a similar deal on the table in free agency two weeks ago.
"He's not my player," Lewis said. "We worked to sign Marvin back. Marvin chose to go. His idea was to feel he could be a No. 1 on another team. Even though he said it wasn't important to him, all of a sudden it became important to him, again."