Slants And Screens: Bengals Say Bring The Heat; When Zac Copied Lombardi 

Jessie Bates III hopes playing all of Sunday's snaps is like drinking water.
Jessie Bates III hopes playing all of Sunday's snaps is like drinking water.

Bengals head coach Zac Taylor could care less that forecasters are calling for one of the hottest home games in Bengals history during Sunday's Paul Brown Stadium opener (1 p.m.-Cincinnati's Channel 19) against the 49ers. With Sunday's high of 88 degrees being called by the National Weather Service, Taylor loves that they'll be in their all black uniforms.

"They've been in this heat all camp and all this week and they're hopeful the heat cranks up on Sunday," Taylor said after Friday's practice. "We're going to meet the adversity head-on. We're just going to say, 'Bring it on. We're in all black … Love it. We're ready to go."

If the mercury hits 88, that would be tied with second hottest Bengals' home game ever, recorded in the 2008 PBS opener. The only 90-degree game in Cincy was the 2002 opener. Taylor took his team off the field about 20 minutes early Friday, but they finished up that time with a walk-through in the gym because he wanted them out of the heat to focus.

"We had finished our full speed work for the day," he said.

Safety Jessie Bates III, the only defensive player to take all 49 snaps in Seattle, has been hydrating all week in his efforts to keep his skein intact. He figures he's been drinking about eight bottles of water per day, his beverage of choice at home.

"I'll drink about half Gatorade during the game with the electrolytes," Bates said. "My favorite flavor is cherry, but they don't have that on the sidelines."

NEXT STEP: Heading into last week's game, Taylor's focus was for them to be disciplined in a hostile environment. Not Sunday.

"Win," he said. "We came out of that loss I think guys were realizing that we can have a pretty good team if we handle our business and do things the right way," Taylor said. "Now let's finish the thing. Let's not shoot ourselves in the foot in the red zone with silly stuff. Let's make those stops in key situations on defense. That's the next step for us is we have to put it all together."

COPYING LOMBARDI: Jay Morrison of The Athletic got a heck of an answer from Taylor when he asked him if he's got any favorite sports memorabilia.

First he said he grew up with "two really cool posters," on his bedroom walls of his father playing safety for Nebraska. One shot had Sherwood Taylor grabbing Texas Hall of Fame running back Earl Campbell

"He's got him by the shirt as Earl looks like he's pulling away," Taylor said. "He claims he got the shirt and then tapped his feet and he fell down. That's the story."

The other poster captures his dad in the air stretched out sacking Missouri quarterback Phil Bradley, best known as Roger Clemens' record 20th strikeout victim when the Red Sox beat the Mariners in Fenway Park on April 20, 1986.

But the prize of all prizes was found in his father-in-law's books. When Mike Sherman left Green Bay after six seasons as the Packers head coach, he gave some of his books to his daughter and they ended up moving them into their first apartment in College Station, Texas when everybody was at A&M. A sheaf of papers fell out of one of the books during the move and suddenly Taylor was feasting his eyes on handwritten notes legendary Packers head coach Vince Lombardi took 51 years ago in the week leading up to Super Bowl II against the Raiders in Miami.

"I studied it for hours," Taylor said. "Rooming lists. What he was going to say to the team. What angles he was going to take with the media."

Taylor shook his head in disgust. It was all a bit much for a graduate assistant coach to take in at the time (probably a good nine years before he went to the Rams' Super Bowl earlier this year) and, besides, after he copied them for Sherman, he can't find his own copies.

"Gone," he said. "I hope Sherm still has his."