Hobby: “They’re all long, big athletic guys from tackle to tackle. They play well together. You can tell that they’re really well-coached. Man, they’re good. They’re really good. When they decide they want to run it, when they decide to pass it, we’ve definitely got our hands full with this group.
SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: ANARUMO
Defensive coordinator Lou Anarumo has had the breakout year that everyone around him knew he was destined to have.
Hobby: “He does a great job of letting his coaches coach. … Everybody’s responsible for a different part of the field, different part of the game, different situations. He lets you hold accountability. … Then he wants to hear from everybody. I think his leadership qualities are outstanding as a defensive coordinator.
“He’s always around the players. They like it. He’s always talking to them individually. He does a great job of managing that. You can tell he’s been a position coach at this level before he was a defensive coordinator because he’s been in those meetings rooms with them. He knows (how to deal with) different personalities. He does a great job of managing that. I think that’s probably the one thing I sit back and I’m more impressed with.”
Wide receiver and special teams ace Stanley Morgan has embraced his new role in the NFL. Walters was the offensive coordinator at Nebraska when Morgan played in Lincoln.
Walters: “At Nebraska he was the No. 1 receiver. He was a guy we tried to get the ball to. … His role was being the No. 1 receiver making plays and now his role in the NFL is being a special teams guy. Doing whatever it takes to be in all the special teams.
“They love his attitude. They love his love for the game. He never has a bad day. … When he gets in on offense, he does his job. Sometimes we ask him to go in and block a safety or block a linebacker, crack a defensive, and he does so and does it well.
“A lot of competitive guys have an ego and they see themselves as just a starting receiver, but (in) this game (there are) only two or three starting receivers. (In order to) make the team, you’ve got to be able to do more things.”
Wide receiver and punt returner Trent Taylor delivered on a two-point conversion that tied the AFC championship game at 21 in Kansas City. His clutch performance would help push the Bengals to a 27-24 win on Jan. 30.
Walters: “The thing about Trent is he comes to work every day, no matter if he’s on the practice squad or the active roster. Majority of the time spent for him is on a practice squad and you never hear him complain.
“When we were game planning, a certain play came to mind where it was really an option route. … We felt like he was the best player to do it, to perform, to be successful. So we weren’t scared of his lack of reps, his lack of playing time.
“We knew that if he was put in that situation, he’d be ready for it. We practiced that route probably three or four weeks before the Kansas City game. … He was ready. Joe (Burrow) was confident in him. I kept telling him on that drive, “Get ready, get ready. (If) we score, we’re going to go for two and that’s the two-point play.”
“It’s a credit to his character that even though he’s a veteran, he’s been on a practice squad for the first 14-15 weeks. He never hung his head. … (When) his number is called, he’s ready to make a play. “
Going against consensus, the Bengals drafted three defensive linemen with consecutive picks. Unfortunately, defensive end Joseph Ossai (third round), and defensive linemen Cam Sample and defensive tackle Tyler Shelvin (both fourth round), along with seventh-round defensive end Wyatt Hubert, have all dealt with the injury bug at some point. Ossai and Hubert have been on injured reserve before the start of the season.
Hobby: “I’m definitely excited about (them). Joseph got hurt early in the preseason. He was coming on pretty good. Same thing with Wyatt, he got hurt before camp. So those were two guys that I really didn’t get a chance to spend a lot of time with before they got injured. They’re good football players. Then Tyler Shelvin has played sparingly throughout the year. I just watched him get better over time. It’s a good group of guys”
More from Hobby: “Cam has been hurt. … Big Tyler (was) a little beat up early. (We want) those guys to stay healthy so we can get a really good evaluation on them. … When Cam Sample has had a chance to play, I ‘ve been impressed with him.
“He’s an old-school throwback football player. He’s good in the run game. He can play multiple positions. He’s smart. So (you’re) kind of throwing him in a lot of places. He’s played (defensive end). He’s played outside linebacker. He’s (rushing) as a three-technique.”