In preparation for tonight's matchup against the Cincinnati Bengals, I interviewed lead blogger Kirkendall at Cincy Jungle. There's somewhat of a connection as the Bengals' starting QB, Carson Palmer, tore the ACL and MCL in his left knee during a playoff game with the Steelers. Eerie. Like, freakishly coincidental. Palmer has spoken about how he still struggles with the mental aspects of that injury. Will Brady suffer the same? Well, enough of that. First, a big shoutout to Kirkendall for answering my questions. I'm looking forward to some good football tonight. Now, on to the interview.
1) Carson Palmer suffered a mild ankle sprain against New Orleans. Is he projected to take some reps this Thursday or are the coaches planning on resting him?
While the team hasn't officially announced anything, Carson Palmer has said that he's out Thursday. It's a precautionary effort. The coaches are likely thinking that it’s not worth aggravating an already mild injury during preseason. If this were a regular season game, most likely Palmer's playing.
2) If Carson doesn't play, J.T. O'Sullivan and Jordan Palmer look to get some reps. Some reports say Jordan will receive the lion's share of time. Does that mean he's won the backup position battle?
In truth, the backup role is a toss up. O'Sullivan was listed as the backup quarterback when Training Camp kicked off. However, it wasn’t soon after that we started seeing Jordan making stronger, more accurate and smarter throws. However, O'Sullivan redeemed himself nicely against the Saints
last week, completing nine of 11 passes for 100 yards passing and a touchdown. The latest is that O’Sullivan will work the first half and Jordan will take the second half snaps.
3) After an unproductive 2008, Chad Ochocinco appears to be back to his former level of production. It's only preseason, but do Bengals fans have reason to be stoked about "The Chad"?
Yea. I know how Chad is perceived by fans outside of Cincinnati. But there are little things that Chad does that you pick up on after so many years. First and foremost, his demeanor is back to where he played his best. Furthermore, his attitude towards the Bengals shifted, he took on a boxing training regiment and came into Training Camp in the best condition we’ve seen him in since being with Cincinnati. Also, a lot of his poor performance last season was a bum ankle that kept his offseason workout to a minimum and in the preseason, he badly injured his shoulder. He was never fully healed in 2008. While his attitude was terrible, criticizing the team at every opportunity, his body was breaking down and discussions about his age started growing. Now none of that exists. Some of his catches during Training Camp are reminiscent of his status as an elite receiver and his speed is top-notch again. There's a high level of excitement that we're getting the old Chad Ochocinco Johnson back.
4) Playing in the AFC North must be tough these days. Lining up against the Steeler's and Raven's defenses is no cakewalk - and Cincy does it twice a year!! Any thoughts on this year? What offensive improvements have the Bengals put into place to combat these defensive juggernauts?
The Bengals are rededicating themselves with a power rushing offense, using the pass to make the big plays. They’re trying to reform themselves into the 2005 offense, where Cincinnati went 11-5, which had the same characteristics. Defense and running the ball are two components that the Steelers
have beaten the Bengals with time and time again. If you look at the Bengals and Ravens
games dating back to 2004, the Bengals actually hold their own. The key against the Ravens was the passing offense, hitting the sidelines while stretching the field. It always opened up zones that favored T.J. Houshmandzadeh
and Chad Ochocinco Johnson very well. The Steelers, on the other hand, are the Steelers. They've always beaten on the Bengals and that's just fact. If the Bengals can come through with their goal to establish a powerful rushing offense, then our chances dramatically increase. I don't believe we're there just yet, but we're definitely on the right path to leave last season in the rear view mirror.