HEAD COACH JOHN HARBAUGH
Opening statement:"OK, it's good to see everybody. I appreciate you guys being here. It's a beautiful day out, [and it's a] great day for football and a great day for a lot of other things, too. But, we had a great football practice. We're happy about that. What questions do you have?"
The NFL put out a note that stated the Baltimore Ravens and the Cincinnati Bengals are the first teams to ever play each other three times in a four-week span including the postseason. Is there a lot of familiarity with the Bengals at this point? (Jamison Hensley) "You watch most of the plays, and you're like, 'Yes, I remember that, I remember that,' except what you don't remember. It is what it is, I guess. It's a new level of familiarity, apparently. We're excited for the opportunity in all seriousness. [We] can't wait to go play the game. We respect the team, [and] we respect the environment. We know we have our work cut out for us, but we also feel like we're up for it, and we're ready to go roll. Let's go see what happens."
What is the big difference you are trying to see with your team from Week 1 to Week 2? (Cordell Woodland) "Well, you look for improvement across the board. There's a thousand little things, a thousand points of light that you have to work on, and you try to improve in every one of them. What does the overall picture look like in terms of how you end up playing, generally. And that's what we're trying to do. We're trying to attack every little aspect of what we do and trying to make it better. Our guys are on that. There are some things that were high priority [and] other things were kind of standard improvement, but there's some certain things that we need to work on that will be focused on this game."
Was there anything wrong with G John Simpson as he was not out at practice today? (Brian Wacker) "John [Simpson] had a personal, family thing – a positive thing. That's why he missed today. He's fine."
Is there an injury update on S Marcus Williams? (Brian Wacker) "I don't have an update on that yet."
It looked like TE Mark Andrews was running some routes in the beginning of practice? (Brian Wacker) "Yes, he practiced."
Has this been a week where you had to have extra offensive linemen take snaps at practice to practice any what-if scenarios since C Tyler Linderbaum will most likely not play because of injury? (Luke Jones) "We did all that. [You're] exactly right. We had all the different guys taking snaps. We've been building that in the last couple weeks especially. You always have to be prepared. You have to have depth at center – guys that can snap and get you out of a game. We've been working those guys at that, and they move around. It's good to have versatile players. We do have versatile offensive linemen pretty much across the board for the most part, and we're happy with that."
Are you expecting WR Rashod Bateman more of a workload this week? (Cordell Woodland) "You'll see. You never know. You can make a prediction. I can say that there's an expectation, and then you go play the game. Any of our receivers could come out and have 10 catches or not. You just don't know how it's going to go, but we definitely have everybody game planned in. I think Todd [Monken] is really … It's important to Todd. He's cognizant of that. He wants to get guys the ball, situationally and within plays and things like that. The coverage has to take you there. We'll see how it plays out, but I'm just happy that we have a lot of guys. We have a lot of options, and that makes you happy as a coach. Lamar [Jackson] has some places to go with the ball. We can run the ball. I just can't wait to see the guys play."
What will the snap share be for WR Rashod Bateman in the game? _(Cordell Woodland) _"Again, we'll see how it goes. We have a lot of guys to play, but Rashod [Bateman]'s a huge part of our offense. There's no doubt if there's any misconception about that. We want him on the field. I want him on the field. He wants to be on the field. He'll be on the field a lot this year. I expect him to be on the field a lot [on] Sunda,y too. We'll see how it goes."
With RB J.K. Dobbins being out and with multiple talented running backs, there's a plan of attack. Do you see a guy in the running back room in more of a lead role? (Kyle Barber) "Yes, I just don't ... That's a great question, and we have had the conversation. There's very few of those situations when you have one guy taking almost all the carries and one or two guys spelling; you just don't see it that much anymore. And we're in that place where we have a bunch of really good backs; great guys [and] great players, and they're all different. They all bring a little something different to the table. So, it's just a lot of value in putting guys out there, and in today's offense, you move them around, you put them in different places, you run different plays with them and try to play to their strengths as much as possible."
If you had a fantasy team, who would you be starting? (Jamison Hensley) (Laughter)"Oh it's fantasy. I'm sorry, I don't have the fantasy answer. I apologize for that. We're not allowed to play fantasy football, you that right?" (Reporter: Really?) "No, we can't do it." (Reporter: Even with no stakes?) "I don't think so. I'm not checking. If there's a grey area, I'm out of the grey."
There's a trend through the years of not having a lead back. Why do you think that's the case? Do you think it's the physical nature of the position, or do you think it goes back the other direction or is that the way things are headed with offenses? _(Brian Wacker) _"Well, you do more on offense than you used to do. It used to be more two-back [sets]. It used to be more centric around the running game probably. Now, things are just more spread out. But there are guys that can definitely fill that role for sure, and it just kind of depends on the circumstances of the team and everything else. There are guys in the league doing it, so yes, it's OK. It's still part of it. You never know. You see we're trying to zag when people are zigging, usually, and we could get into that place at some point in time. It's not like we're opposed to it."
When we talked to the players and talked about the players who possibly may not play, everyone's like, 'Next Man Up.' When you're dealing with these injuries, do you as a team have to put blinders on and just focus on the task at hand?_ (Jamison Hensley)_ "Well yes, you do. It's funny because I've never used that particular term. I just don't use it, but our guys do because it's just understood. We don't even talk about it. It doesn't even need to be talked about because we do talk about how much [and] how strongly we feel about our guys. So, our players are confident in their teammates, their brothers in arms. They believe in one another, and they're excited to see those guys play. So, It's not … I see why it's a topic, but it's not really a topic in our inner circle. We're just going to play the game, and we're excited about the guys we have."
You know what it's like to compete against your brother. Do you have any advice or words of wisdom for RB Justice Hill this week as he faces his brother S Dax Hill? (Ryan Mink) "Well, Justice [Hill] was the older brother, right?" (Reporter: I think so.) "There you go, just keep it rolling." (Laughter)
RB JUSTICE HILL
On how his conversations with his brother, Bengals S Daxton Hill, have been this week: "[They've been] competitive. We just want to go out there and get a win. I'm always a trash talker with him. [I] want to get that win, though."
On if there's been back and forth conversation with his brother this week: "He's been avoiding me a little bit, so when I can get him on the phone, I'll be talking my noise."
On what goes through his mind playing against his brother who plays safety and could tackle him but also having a cool family moment:"Hopefully I will be on the positive side. I will be on the positive side of that, so it's going to be good for the family. It's going to be a good game. It should be fun."
On how his family and friends and handling what jerseys to wear: "They had some practice last year. We played each other three times, so this isn't the first time. They switch it up at halftime."
On how excited he is for the opportunity to show what he can do for the offense with RB J.K. Dobbins out: "You're always ready for opportunities, and when the opportunity is here, you have to execute. I'm excited. I've been here for four [or] five years now, and I've been waiting for this opportunity, so I'm going to take full advantage."
On if this opportunity something he feels like he's been waiting for: "Yes, definitely. I've definitely been waiting on this for a while. I've been on God's time, and I'm always ready, so I get to show the world now."
On what it's like knowing they ask a lot of him on special teams and now getting his opportunity on offense: "It's tough, but when you're a part of the team, you just want your team to win. The last four years, they've been calling me heading on special teams, and I'm going to give them my all no matter where I'm at [on the field], because I just want to win. So, now [that I'm] getting called to do more responsibilities at RB, the same goal is the same goal. [I'm] just trying to win, help the team win and try to get to the Super Bowl."
On how much he anticipates being involved in the passing game: "It's going to be there. Whatever they call, whether it's a pass or a run, I'm going to be available for them. I'm just going to continue to stack that and do well."
On what the childhood games were like in the Hill household: "They were super competitive. We had a basketball hoop in the front yard, so it went down out there. We were competing at everything, whether it was a board game, basketball, football, anything. It's not going to be anything new out there."
On if his little brother ever beat him in games:"Not until he got a little bigger, but for a long time he was getting the beat down, so we're going to keep that rolling." (laughter)