Great pregame reads on Jay Gruden and Geno Atkins

Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

If you're itching for Thursday's game against the Miami Dolphins to kickoff, we have some ways for you to kill time.

Take a few minutes to read Dan Pompei's report, detailing Jay Gruden's week heading into last Sunday's game against the New York Jets. You receive more some insight into the character, interactions, game-planning, and learn that yes, Greg McElroy helped the Bengals against his former team and that Gruden charts the first 15 plays of every game.

Gruden has a lot of time because kickoff is not until 4:05, so he starts working on planning for the Bengals' Thursday game against the Dolphins. He gets about halfway through the tape and stops because he doesn't want to be thinking about the Dolphins when the Jets are the more immediate concern.

So he watches the week of practice again and makes some notations on his call sheet.

It's a beautiful fall day for football in Cincinnati—perfect, in fact, for the long ball. It doesn't take long for all of Gruden's planning to kick in.

Greg Bedard with Sports Illustrated hangs out with Geno Atkins, who shows far more character as a player but also as a preparer who watches endless amounts of film.

"See how he’s stepping up into the pocket rather than running around?" Atkins explains. "We have to help out the ends by pushing the pocket to get five yards into the backfield. If I can get into the guard and center, he has no room to step up and make that touchdown throw. We have to make sure he can’t step into his throws. … If we can push the pocket to where he can’t step into his throws, or he has to alter his throws, I like our chances."

But some of the best comes from Justin Williams with Cincinnati Magazine, who tries to get Atkins to open up, to the point that his teammates offer a very telling persona of the best defensive tackles in the NFL. With the media, he's reserved and quiet. But not so much his teammates.

Wallace Gilberry unleashes a juicy cackle, drowning out the muffled laughter of several defensive linemen seated around him. Gilberry has no shortage of quips at Atkins’s expense, though according to him, it’s purely payback. The narrative of Geno Atkins as the quiet, shy standout is not one that exists within the Bengals locker room.

"He’s not quiet with me," says fullback Chris Pressley. "He won’t stop talking."

"He jokes the most out of any of us," claims Gilberry. "They say I’m the prankster, but Geno, he’s sneaky. He stirs up the hornet’s nest and we walk straight into it."

Want to get him to talk? Ask him about Henry III and Longneck Rex. His pet turtles. Why turtles, asks Williams?

"I can’t get a dog," says Atkins, "so that’s the next best thing."

Hard to tell but that might have been a joke.

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