Initial comments …
“We’re ready to get on to Steelers week. Today will be our first real day of practice. We stole a bonus day a couple days ago (Tuesday), but the players had some time off. That’s good for us because we had a lot of injuries going into the Buffalo game, so we’ve had the chance to get some guys healthy. A lot of guys are day-to-day, and we’re hoping to get some of them back for the game. We put Darius Phillips on IR (Reserve/Injured list) which was unfortunate because he was playing some good football. He had some loose cartilage in his knee, and it flared up after the game, so the decision was made that we will put him on IR. It’s an eight-week deal, and he will be eligible to come back depending on how that all plays out. We will see and go from there.”
Do you have an update on OT Cordy Glenn?
“No update. He’s progressively doing some individual work today, which is good and a step in the right direction. He’s still in the day-to-day diagnosis right now.”
Are you optimistic that he plays this season?
“Legitimately, we come in every day and wait for the next update. We’re certainly hopeful he will be back. (The medical staff) can tell me tomorrow or the next day that he’s back, but you never know. That’s how it’s been the last couple weeks.”
How is G Michael Jordan? Where do you stand at LG?
“Michael Jordan is in good shape, and he will progress into practice today. We plan on him being available for the game (on Monday night). There are still some decisions to be made, but like we’ve said before, we have multiple starters at guard. Billy (C Billy Price) has played well, so we will see throughout the week. We feel comfortable with Billy being the left guard and with Mike Jordan being the left guard. Today, Billy will take those reps as the starting left guard at practice.”
Is it possible that WR A.J. Green practices this week?
“A.J. won’t practice this week. He’s on the rehab field this week. I’ve watched him and he’s making good progress, but he won’t be practicing this week.”
How long will CB B.W. Webb be out with his wrist injury?
“I think B.W. Webb will play in this game. I can’t say that with 100 percent confidence, but he’s got a good chance to play.”
How do you get players who have recently joined the team up to speed in Week 4 and ready to play?
“Well, Greg Maybin has played some ball in this league. Torry (CB Torry McTyer) has played for Daronte (secondary/cornerbacks coach Daronte Jones) and Lou (defensive coordinator Lou Anarumo) before, so he’s familiar with the scheme. These are two guys who we feel aren’t just ‘green’ guys. They can show up and get some playing time. Whether they’re both active, one of them is inactive, or B.W. is out – there’s a lot of things that play into it – we felt like we needed the DB depth at this point with DP going down. I’m hopeful B.W. will play this week, but we still have to take it day-to-day with him and see how he responds to putting his hands on people. We just felt like we needed that depth at defensive back.”
If B.W. Webb plays, will he be all in?
“We’ll see. We feel comfortable with Tony (CB Tony McRae) and the role he’s played. We’ll take it day-by-day and see what the game plan entails, but it’s been pretty good news on B.W. since he first sustained the injury. He didn’t know how long it was going to be, but it sounds like he’s making pretty good progress.”
DEs Carl Lawson and Kerry Wynn sat out last week with injuries. Did you have to play your healthy defensive ends more than you expected because of that?
“I wouldn’t say it was more than we expected. It was the amount of time we expected because we knew (Lawson and Wynn) were down before the game. Nothing unexpected as it relates to playing time. We’re hopeful that we can get some of those guys back as the week gets going.”
Do you think a primetime game against the Pittsburgh Steelers is the perfect time to get things right?
“It’s as good a time as any (laughs). It wouldn’t have mattered who we were playing in Week 4. We’re anxious to get another opportunity to put it all together. I think that’s the best way to say it. Our guys still believe that we’re heading in the right direction and doing the right things. It’s a tough test — it’s primetime and it’s against the Steelers. They’re saying the same things in that locker room that we’re saying. Our guys will be ready to go, and they’re very anxious for this opportunity.”
Does the rivalry feel a bit different with both teams being 0-3 and Pittsburgh playing without QB Ben Roethlisberger?
“It’s the same feel I’ve always had. They’re still a really talented, well-coached football team, and that doesn’t change. Yeah, maybe some of the guys they were really counting on won’t play in this game, or haven’t played a lot of ball, but they’re still talented players and they’re going to be put in good spots. We’re going to have to put our best foot forward, and it’s going to be a tough test for us.”
Why did you decide to add two CBs to the roster this week?
"Because Darius was put on IR and B.W. Webb is still working with the injury he has. We felt like we needed some depth. We have to be ready, and we’ve got to have somebody up. That’s why we made the decision.”
How do you approach a primetime game? What path do you feel is the best to take?
“The same path. There are things that don’t need to be said. We feel the excitement in the locker room, particularly on game day. That Monday is a long day. You’re used to being in the hotel on Saturday night and there’s (college) games on. On Sunday morning you’re getting ready and you see all the pregame shows. When you play a Monday night game, it’s very different. When you get up on Monday morning, you’ve got to get out of your bed, you’ve got to move around and there’s soap operas on TV, which you’re not used to seeing. You’re anxious all day, and when you finally get to the stadium, it’s a night game. You see all the big personalities on the sidelines, so you do get that new sense of energy. It’s nothing we need to talk about throughout the week or in the locker room, but you just feel it on the day of the game, and know it’s ‘go time.’”
Do you have a favorite soap opera?
“(Laughs) No, I turn them off. There’s nothing to watch. I’m totally lost on Monday mornings.”
Since players have grown up watching Monday Night Football, there has to be some added excitement, right?
“Yeah, you’re right. It’s the game that as a little kid, you beg your parents to let you stay up so you can watch the game. I know there are a lot of primetime games going on – Thursday nights and Sunday nights – but Monday Night Football doesn’t change. Guys still have that same feeling and that same excitement. It’s one of those games that you dream of growing up and playing in. It adds to it that it’s a divisional game, on the road and against a really good opponent.”
Do you remember the first time your parents let you stay up late for Monday Night Football?
“I always tried to watch the Cowboys play when I was a little kid. I remember staying up late to watch the Cowboys play in the Super Bowl when the Cowboys played the Bills (Super Bowl XXVII). Maybe I was in fifth grade, around (1993). That’s the first time I remember begging to stay up. Yeah, I think that was the Super Bowl.”
Did your parents let you?
“I think I got to halftime. Then the next day at school, I acted like I saw the whole game. I think it was the one where (Bills WR) Don Beebe knocked the ball out of (Cowboys DT) Leon Lett’s hands in the end zone. I acted like I had seen it when my friends were talking about it at school. I said, ‘Oh yeah, I saw that,’ but really I had no idea what they were talking about (laughs).”
When you watch the Steelers’ defense now compared to your first year with the Dolphins in 2012, does it look similar?
“No. Back when you played (former Steelers S) Troy Polamalu, that was a different defense in its entirety. They still pride themselves on the physicality, playing tough and taking the fight to the offense. That stuff doesn’t change. They’re big up front, and those guys have strong hands and they’re powerful. They’ve got linebackers that can move, and they’ve got DBs who have played a lot of good football in this league. You have to be ready for big showdown over there. Those guys are going to take it to you, so you have to be ready to give it right back.”
Does the fact that the Bengals and Steelers have played two common opponents — Seattle and San Francisco — this season affect your preparation?
“No. You’re watching the other side of the ball now, so it doesn’t change for an offense or defense because we’re not watching the same film. You’re kind of seeing a team that you’ve played, but watching the other side of the ball. I don’t know if that makes any sense. Like offensively, we are watching Seattle’s defense, and this is the first week we’ve watched Seattle’s offense. It really doesn’t help the quarterback or a linebacker that you’ve had that common opponent. It does for me, because I’ve watched both sides (of the ball) to try and see some things, but for the most part, it doesn’t help the team much.
“They’ve been very similar games. If you look at Pittsburgh and how their season has gone – not in the sequencing of the way our games have gone, with a close game in the first game, and then the second game wasn’t very close for us and then the third game was close – their games have been identical. Their game the other day against San Francisco was very similar. They got the ball back at the end with a little less time than we actually had. We moved the ball down (the field) and there were 20-something seconds remaining. They were actually backed up a little more on the clock, but they were very similar in that there wasn’t a lot of scoring in the first half and their defense kept them in it. In the second half, they got it going a little bit — they had the two big touchdowns. It felt eerily similar to how our game was against Buffalo.”
Does a quicker start on offense involve HB Joe Mixon?
“We’re trying to get everybody involved. We gave him the ball on the first couple drives. The very first play, we were trying to get something going and we ended up in second-and-10 on what we felt like should have been an efficient play on first down. On the first play of the second drive, we got a penalty – which wasn’t a penalty – that put us right back in first-and-15. It’s hard to say that we should have given Joe the ball (more) on the first two drives. We feel like we should have been in great shape, but we weren’t. Again, he gives us a spark, and Gio (HB Giovani Bernard) gives us a spark. We feel really good about the direction of our run game and what those backs provide for us. We feel like we have a lot of playmakers we need to get the ball to in order to get us going. We feel like we’re strong at every skill position on offense. We just have to find the right way as a play-caller to get everybody involved and give us that spark to get us that first first down to really get us going.”
Where do you want to see improvement this week?
“I would say the consistency overall. That’s really what our team has lacked in each of the games – consistency from drive to drive, half to half. That’s really what we’ve been missing, and that equals zero wins up to this point. With our whole team, we preach to them that we need more consistency overall, and when we get that, we think we will be doing things the way we want them done.”
Are there certain things that QB Andy Dalton could be doing better?
“I would say it’s impossible to pinpoint on one person. We are all accountable for where we are right now on offense. He does a lot of really good things that he doesn’t get credit for. He gets us into the right protections, and he gets us into the right run plays. He makes some big throws that to most people, they don’t think much of it, but they’ve really been impressive throws that helped keep us alive in some moments. People tend to remember the ones that they think the quarterback missed, and that’s not always the case. He’s no different than any of us. He’s no different than me, or any of the linemen, or the receivers. We’re all accountable for getting this thing going in the right direction.”
Has DE Andrew Brown earned another chance to play after his performance against Buffalo?
“Depending on the depth we’ve got. We kept him on the roster for a reason. He’s one of those guys you describe as a football player. Being on the field, he gives you some flexibility at some different positions. He played with a lot of energy. You saw a guy kind of getting his first opportunity. There was some good and some bad. Again, he’s a guy that’s going to continue to grow and improve, and there’s opportunities for him. We want him to take advantage of those opportunities. Overall, the D-linemen had to play too many snaps in the previous game because we were down (a couple injured players). We had three inactive defensive linemen, and that’s why they had to play more than we wanted them to. Overall, we’d like to have a better rotation, but unfortunately that wasn’t the way we were able to do it last game.”
What was the reason for signing LB LaRoy Reynolds?
“We knew we were short a spot at linebacker, and we wanted to get up to five. We carried four in the first week, and I know you guys are well aware of that. He brings great energy. He’s a passionate guy, and I saw that when I met with him in my office when we first signed him. You look at the way he plays on scout team, and the way he runs around — you have to tell him to slow down sometimes when he’s going against your running back on the scout team. He loves to be on the field, and he’s a guy that’s played for a lot of different teams. He sees this as an opportunity that he has to go grab. He plays with great energy, that’s something a lot of guys can feed off of. He’s only going to continue to improve in the system.”
Today is the final game for Reds radio broadcaster Marty Brennaman. Have you had the chance to meet him?
“I’m trying to process what you’re even talking about (laughs). No, I have not. I left last night, and to be honest with you, I couldn’t tell you what day it was. I saw a lot of Reds fans when I was leaving at 10:30 p.m. — did the game end that late? I just saw a lot of people and figured there must have been a game and something going on. There was more people parked in the garage than normal last night, and I thought that was bizarre. Other than that, no. I’m in my own world. You’re right about that (laughs).”
Will you be piping in “white noise” at practice in preparation for the atmosphere at Pittsburgh?
“Any time you’re going to play in a difficult environment, you have to make sure we you’re prepared and not take it for granted. Just because we had some poise in the noise in the first two games we played in, we can’t say, ‘Alright, we’ve got that figured out, and we don’t need to work on that anymore.’ Any time you’re playing on the road in this division, you have to plan on communication being a factor. We have to make sure we continue to improve our verbal and nonverbal communication on the field. If you’re fortunate enough, you’ll get to here that ‘white noise’ we have out there (at practice).”
What are you trying to improve on in late-game situations?
“Great question. Finishing. We have to find a way to win. We have to find that killer instinct inside of us. Who’s going to step up and make that play? We’ve had the opportunities, and we haven’t been the team that’s stepped up in whatever phase and made that final play that puts the dagger in the opponent. That’s the difference in winning and losing. We’re 0-3, and we own it. When the game is on the line – whether it’s this game or the next – we have to step up and be the one that finishes the job for us.”
The running game started to click in the second half last week. What did that do for the offense?
“We got into more of a groove. That’s what it came down to. We were able to run our offense how we wanted to run it. There was a lot of stuff that went wrong for us in the first half from an execution standpoint. For us, (we) get back to, ‘OK, let’s just focus on us. Let’s get to playing how we can play.’ We hit some of those runs, which were good.”
Does establishing the running game give head coach Zac Taylor more confidence in play calling?
“For sure. Any time you can turn around and hand the ball off, it gives you confidence. It opens up your whole offense.”
Did the yards gained on play-action plays stem from the running game?
“Yeah. That’s part of it. If you can run the ball well you’re going to open up windows in the play-action game. If you can run the ball, it opens up your whole offense.”
At this point in the season, compared to last season, does it feel like a new offense?
“It’s definitely different. The way we want to play games is different. There have been some good things we’ve done, there’s been some things I feel like we could do better. For us, at this point, we just need the consistency to play a complete game, because we haven’t done that yet.”
Do you feel like you’re still adjusting to the new offense?
“Guys know exactly what we’re doing. It comes down to execution.”
Does this matchup with Pittsburgh feel different compared to years past, considering many of their past key players won’t be in uniform?
“We know the importance of this game. Every year it has been important, regardless of who’s on the other side. Their team is going to look a little different not having Ben (Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger), not having A.B. (former Steelers WR Antonio Brown), Le’Veon (former Steelers RB Le’Veon Bell) — some of these guys that had been there for a while. The importance is still the same. Both teams are fighting for their first win. It’s a division game. All the same stuff is still there.”
Have you or other veteran players talked to Taylor about what this rivalry has been like in years past?
“He understands it. He hasn’t been here for it, but at the end of the day it’s a division game that we want to win. That’s all it comes down to.”
Personally, how have you handled the transition to a new offense?
“I feel comfortable with what we’re doing. I know why Zac is calling certain things. Each game plan has been different. I feel that I have handled it well.”
Do you enjoy playing on a primetime stage?
“You definitely like it. On Monday night, you’re going to be the only game that’s on TV. Everybody’s going to be watching. That’s why you play this game. You play for the big games. You play for moments like this. Our goal and our whole plan is to play really well.”
Do you feel like the team needs a rivalry game to get on track?
“We just need to focus on us and what we’re doing. Yes, this game means more because it’s a divisional game against Pittsburgh. We’ve had a lot of tough-fought games against them. We’re just trying to do everything we can to get a win this week.”
Did you have any connections to Pittsburgh before you were drafted by the Bengals?
“I did not. I didn’t know much about it before I got here. I didn’t know much about Cincinnati before I got here either. I’ve learned over the last nine years about this rivalry.”
Have you taught yourself to hate Pittsburgh?
“You’re trying to get some bulletin board material right here (laughs). You’re the one saying everything. This is an important game on the road against Pittsburgh.”
How has your offensive line performed so far?
“Those guys have done well. As many different groups as we’ve had up front throughout training camp, and where we’re at now, those guys have been playing well.”