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Trey Hendrickson Back On The Field With Winning On His Mind: 'I Want To Bring A Super Bowl To Cincinnati'

Trey Hendrickson during Day 1 of Mandatory Minicamp on Tuesday, June 13, 2023 at Paycor Stadium in Cincinnati, Ohio.
Trey Hendrickson during Day 1 of Mandatory Minicamp on Tuesday, June 13, 2023 at Paycor Stadium in Cincinnati, Ohio.

Three-time Pro Bowl sacker Trey Hendrickson checked into the Bengals' voluntary on-field workouts this week for the first time this spring.

But he never left.

Even after he made his trade request back in March, Hendrickson continued on the same offseason Paycor Stadium regimen with the staff of Bengals strength and conditioning coach Joey Boese. It's the same one he rode to last season's NFL runner-up 17.5 sacks, when he broke his team record.

"I'm faster and stronger than I was last year and I'm excited about it," Hendrickson said after Monday's first day of rookie and veteran bonding, the day he didn't want to miss.

"Every player should feel like he's in the best shape of his life at this point in the season. You should try something different here and there. I think I ran faster and worked out harder. I know it sounds cliché. But I want it. I want to win."

It is that drive to win that overrode everything else this spring. More than the 53 sacks in this decade, second only to Myles Garrett's 58 on the 2020s NFL edge. More than the contract. More than the trade request.

"It's the first time in my career I was ever out of the playoffs. Never mind the first time not winning a division title," Hendrickson said of 2023. "That was tough. We were a couple of plays away from being in the playoffs. A couple of plays away from punching our ticket to the Super Bowl. The first thing you have to do is get in the dance. Once you're there, you've got a shot."

Hendrickson wants to make it clear he wants to keep dancing in Cincinnati until the end of his career.

"I love it here. This is the team that opened its arms to me," he has always said since they made him their richest free agent ever before the Super Bowl run of 2021.

When the Bengals told him no, they were not dealing their most consistent sacker ever (.82 per game), Hendrickson and his wife, devout Christians, talked every day. They started and ended with their foundation Hendrickson calls "My Lord and Savior."

Hendrickson says he continues to hold the Bengals front office in high esteem ("They do their job well. They were transparent and respectful") and while he's not happy about his economic standing among his peers, he couldn't be happier with his teammates, coaches, and fans.

"This is where separating business and the team is difficult. At what point am I contradicting what I want?" Hendrickson asked. "Long-term, winning games, all those things are what I want to do here in Cincinnati and removing myself from the team doesn't help the team.

"The stats mean I've had a good team surrounding me. That means I've had teammates who have given me the opportunity for individual achievements. I can't rush the passer on my own. I can't scheme a pass coverage like (defensive coordinator) Lou (Anarumo) can that is freeing me up on third-and-eight for a sack-strip. I can't do it without (head coach and play-caller) Zac Taylor giving us a 14-point lead, when sacks are more attainable. That's football. Not just defense. Not just the defensive line. It's a team."

The other stuff is for another time. Now it's about the season. Monday was the first day the Bengals were able to mingle the rookies with the veterans. A particularly important day for Hendrickson. He recalled vets like nose tackle DJ Reader and rookies like edge Joseph Ossai pushing him in different ways.

"I want to help Dax Hill play corner. I want to help make the linebacker reads easier for Germaine (Pratt) and Logan (Wilson). I want to help get the ball back for Joey B," Hendrickson said. "What the 2024, 2025 Bengals look like, today was the first brick.

"We got to see rookies run through bags with the veterans. We got together to meet as a defense and we began to see how we'll interact. It's the first look at what we'll be and for me not to be there or to let my frustrations pour over into the defensive meeting room is not right."

That offseason regimen of the last four months is starting to kick in.

Back on the field.

"My mindset is to win a Super Bowl and I think we've got the quarterback and the pieces to do it," Hendrickson said. "I want to be here a long time. I want to win football games and I want to bring a Super Bowl to Cincinnati."