Hearing from the Bengals

Coach Marvin LewisCan these two teams catch Baltimore?Well, I think we have three games against them. We have a great opportunity to.How is your injury situation?It's about as good as it's been. We kind of turned the corner after our third or fourth game so we've got some guys back. Unfortunately, the guys we've lost, we lost for the year. Right now, knock on wood, we've lost guys in practice the first three weeks but today, we're about as good as we've been.Are the teams that can stay healthiest the ones that have a best shot at going somewhere?I think the teams that stay healthy and the teams that have, what's the word, enough grit, enough resiliency to understand that when you lose a guy, then the other 10 guys on that side of the ball and the other side of the ball need to play better. [Then you] let the young guy get in there or the new guy get in there and let him do his thing but don't think the weight of the world is all on him. It's really your guys picking up the slack.What have you seen form the Steelers defense without players like Troy Polamalu and James Harrison?I think they've missed [LaMarr] Woodley a little bit and they've missed their three bell cows. Really, the guys that they've had, Ike [Taylor] in the back end and [Ryan] Clark at safety but they didn't have him against Denver, those guys all play at a high level. Larry Foote plays at a high level. [Lawrence] Timmons plays at a high level. You've got a bunch of guys that in my opinion play at a very high level on that team. You've got Casey [Hampton] in the middle. You've got [Brett] Keisel. It just seems as though, hell when you're on top, everybody is gunning for you all of the time so they're getting everybody's best shot. There's no question about that. I still think at the end of the day they're not giving up a lot of yardage. They may be giving up a few more points than they've given up in the past, but they're kind of settling in to hit their stride as well.Why have the Steelers played so well in Cincinnati?I'm not a very good coach here, I guess. That's an unfortunate thing. We've got to try to break that string. I don't know. We've turned the ball over too many times and I think that's the key in the football games. I sit here with a study of our games versus Pittsburgh and Baltimore and the team that wins the turnover margin is going to win the football game.Is it harder for quarterbacks in their second year after the league has had a chance to see them, and where is QB Andy Dalton in regards to that?I think Andy is way ahead of where he was a year ago. So, that's a good thing. I don't think he's having a harder time at all. I think we just need to let Andy keep being Andy and not put any more pressure on him. Last week, he had three interceptions on paper at the end of the day and not nearly one of them was his fault. The receivers and so forth can't have balls go off their hands. We can't stop short on a route, because he expects you to be where you're supposed to be and that's part of why he is where he is. I think any quarterback goes through that and it's frustrating for a quarterback when guys let them down. There's a great quarterback there in Ben [Roethlisberger] who helps guys play better and guys play better because of him, because he extends the play and he knows that his guys know he's going to get them the football. That's what you want to have from your quarterback.Is the inexperience you have at wide receiver part of the reason the Bengals have struggled on third down?I don't know, maybe a little bit. These guys were the cat's meow three weeks ago when they were making all the big plays. We're going to just keep working with them and keep going. But, we've had dropped balls, we've had missed protections and we missed balls because we've been hurried a bit. There are a number of different things when you're not as good on third downs as you need to be.What were your expectations when you signed LB Vontaze Burfict?My only was expectation was could he make our football team. I thought he had a lot of linebacker characteristics and that's why I felt like it was worth the opportunity. It's been well written about, all of the communications he had with me after I was there on campus. It was a little risk for what's turned out to be a big reward.What did you mean the other day when you said your team was playing too nice?We need to develop a killer instinct. We need to play for four quarters, to win every down and not relax. Don't drop the standard. That's really important. That's what any great team in the National Football League has. You have to have a killer instinct. You have to win down after down after down. You don't get ahead and relax. You just have to keep playing hard every single play and win every single down. Don't let your man make the tackle. You defend your gap and when the ball is in my gap, I make the tackle. I cover my man. I just do my thing. That's what it is.How much has the Steelers offense changed under Todd Haley?

I think Todd has done some innovative things with screens to come off all the run-actions and so forth to keep you defending the field throughout, and I think that's huge. You feel it's a little bit different. Under Bruce [Arians] they did some of those things and now they're doing a lot of it. It seems the quarterback is really playing with a lot of freedom right now.

Re: The defensive line being the strength of the team:
We felt like trying to get a little younger. The good thing is, I think sometimes, we had some guys who had really played big roles here and they had opportunities to go to other teams to be paid as starters. We felt like we had to go out and draft some guys. We got two new guys in Brandon Thompson and Devon Still who've played a lot of football as rookies already. I think eventually down the line it's really going to pay off for us.

Do you play Thompson and Still about the same amount?
Still is probably getting 25 snaps per game or so. Brandon, when I have him up, he's getting about 20. It's good. [Carlos] Dunlap missed the first part of the year and he's coming back now. Michael Johnson has done a nice job getting off to a good start. When we started the year, three of our guys were injured and so that's why the rookies had to play early in the year.

Do you feel like the third-longest tenured coach in the league?I look like it. It's funny you say that because I remember talking to Bill [Cowher] about those things and his words of words wisdom to me all the time. Yeah, it's an amazing thing. I'm fortunate to still be doing it. I got an opportunity to, as we said last year, restart things and sometimes you have to change addresses to restart. We were able to rebuild the football team here. We've got 28-36 new guys from the team that was here in 2010. That's an amazing turnover that quickly and it's for the better. We feel good about the young guys that we have playing as we keep going we'll get more guys involved and more playing. We just have to keep working at it.Was any of the wisdom from Cowher especially useful?I think all of the things I learned from Bill have been useful to me. Bill did an amazing job of getting the players to play and play hard. Bill, having been an NFL player, there's a certain respect you have and he just did a great job with that. He allowed the coaches to coach but he got those guys to play and they respected that. They played hard for him. That's the biggest part of this job all of the time. We're not going to please everybody but they have to commit and they have to play hard for you.

Quarterback Andy Dalton

Re: This season compared to your rookie season last year:I would say it's definitely been easier for me. Last year I had to learn a lot of new stuff. Now I feel like I know what to expect. I feel like we have to keep getting better and better each week. We had two tough losses the last two weeks but we have to get back on track.How are teams covering A.J. Green?Teams have to pay attention to him just because of how talented he is and what he is capable of doing. Sometimes going in we expect opponents to put two guys on him. We have to adjust and find ways to get him the ball.Re: Opponents going at Ike Taylor more:We expect Taylor to follow Green. We feel like we match up well. We feel like we have guys that match up well with them on the back end. I don't think we will be shying away from any of their guys.Has it been typical this season for only one guy to cover Green?We've seen it happen. If a team feels like they have a cornerback that they feel is more talented, then usually the better one follows Green. It kind of just depends on the philosophy of the defense and what they are trying to do.Even if he is covered, do you feel you have a chance just throwing the ball up in the air to him?Yeah, I have full confidence in him. He is so talented, especially when the ball is in the air. He has a knack for making sure that he is the guy that is going to get it. You have to know when you can take your chances and when not to. Re: Expectations for the Steelers, despite their road struggles:We expect to get their best effort. They had a close one last week that they could have won. We feel like we are going to get their best effort. It's Sunday night football. A lot will be going on with the game. That's what we expect.How do you guys get Jermaine Gresham open?He is a very athletic guy. We find ways to get him the ball. We get that matchup with linebackers on him. We feel pretty good about that, and also him matching up with safeties. He's another one of those guys you have to get the ball to.Re: Using Brian Leonard on third downs:He's been a great third-down back for us. He protects. When he gets the ball in his hands he finds ways to get first downs. We feel like we have talent all over the field.

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