Q. How ready is Jarvis Jones?**
A. Jarvis has had a good couple of weeks. He potentially had the possibility, from a health standpoint, to play a week ago. So the fact he's playing this week should make it even less of an issue. We're just moving forward, and not backward, and excited about getting him back in the fold.
Q. How do you plan to use Jarvis Jones today.
A. We'll use him in some sub-package football. Get him going, give him an opportunity to rush the passer, which is what he does naturally. He's knocking some rust off in some other areas, areas that might be considered technically oriented – playing blocks, and reading blocks, and things of that nature. We'll let Arthur Moats handle the heavy lifting, and we'll get Jarvis acclimated back to playing football by allowing him to do what he does best and naturally.
Q. You mentioned rust, which relates to Jones' inactivity. But does that inactivity give him any advantage? Is the idea of fresh legs a real element?
A. It's very real. It's funny how the physical pounding a body takes over the course of a football season has a cumulative effect. A guy who usually runs a 4.3 runs a 4.45 by this time of the year. A guy who has been out a significant amount of time is not toting that natural wear and tear that's associated with 600-700 snaps he would have accumulated over the past several months had he been playing.
Q. What's your plan for Ryan Shazier?
A. Same thing as Jarvis. A very similar approach. He's got a core special teams plan, maybe some sub-package football, and then we'll play it by ear from there.
Q. I'd like to ask you about Brett Keisel. What went into the decision back in August to bring him back.**
A. We went into camp with some young guys, and we didn't want to clutter our perspective in terms of evaluating them by having a veteran, known guy like him absorbing a lot of the repetitions. It gave us an opportunity to evaluate those guys, to get to know those guys. And in the midst of that evaluation, we said we would routinely come together and discuss their progress. We got to a point where we thought there was a place for him, and he was willing to do it and wanted to do it, and so it became a natural, happy marriage.
Q. You said there was a place for Keisel. What do you mean by that?
A. A place in the rotation. That we could allow him to play and play in some situational things and provide some veteran mentorship for those guys, and contribute to our efforts.
Q. At this stage of the season, is Stephon Tuitt a rookie anymore?
A. Hopefully, there are no more rookies left. All the rookies moved into their second year around Thanksgiving, and that's generally the case. We've played a college football season and then some by now. Guys like him who have worked hard and bided their time to wait for an opportunity, it's exciting to watch them get that opportunity and to watch them take the next step in their careers.
Q. What does Tuitt bring to this situation?
A. He's a very talented guy. He's big. He's strong. He's athletic. He's raw like a lot of young guys, and inexperienced, but the only way you gain experience is to play, and we're excited to give him an opportunity to do that. He's earned it. It's now up to him in terms of where he goes with it.
Q. Now as the veteran of the defensive line group, what does Cam Heyward bring to the team?
A. Besides the playmaking, which is obvious because the videotape attests to that, he's wired right. He's a natural leader. He lives in the moment. He inspires and instructs others. He was born to lead and to play football, and I think he exemplifies that every day.
Q. Do you expect a lot of blitzing from the Bengals defense today?
A. On first-and-10, second-and-medium, they're pretty fundamental. In situational football – third downs, red zone, when you're backed up, two-minute – they get more aggressive and that personality is revealed. Not a lot of change, even though Mike Zimmer is now in Minnesota. They play it pretty close to the vest on first and second downs. When you get into situational football, they're going to come, and they're going to draw a line in the dirt.
Q. Is Cincinnati's defensive line the best you'll face this season?**
A. They're very good. That Kansas City bunch, because of those outside linebackers, is very good and we'll see them here in a few weeks, but make no mistake, the Bengals' group is a talented group. It's a deep group. They've invested a lot in terms of draft picks, but a lot of those younger guys haven't gotten a lot of opportunities because they're playing behind guys like Geno Atkins and Carlos Dunlap. They've got good continuity and quality depth, and that makes them dangerous.
Q. How would you describe Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton?
A. Andy is a guy who has grown up in front of our eyes. He played quite bit as a young guy, and you've seen his growth and development on video over the course of his career. Early on, he was an administrator of the offense and kept things quite simple, and each year he's added to his inclusion in how the game plan comes together. I see him audibling at the line of scrimmage, and he's in complete command of their offense.
Q. How would you characterize your team's mind-set as it enters this stretch run?
A. I think it's a good one. It's one that's singularly focused. We have marching orders that are back-and-white. We win these next four games, we win the AFC North and have a home playoff game. But it starts here and now today.