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Michael Johnson talks Bengals building off playoff heartbreak; Jacob Burney impacting d-line

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Michael Johnson discussed the Bengals overcoming last season's playoff heartbreak and using it to their advantage.

Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

If you follow the Cincinnati Bengals, you know the great work Geoff Hobson does at Bengals.com.

Hobson is now doing a weekly podcast called Hobson's Choice, and his first guest was Bengals defensive end Michael Johnson. The main discussion was centered around Johnson's NFL journey, his involvement with the city of Selma, Alabama, and what he hopes to accomplish with the Bengals going forward.

The discussion included learning from the mistakes of last season that ultimately kept a promising season from extending past Wild Card weekend in the playoffs.

"We can be even better," Johnson said. "We got a sour taste in our mouths about how things went. I think watching the playoffs and how those defenses performed, we feel like we're just as good or better than them, and we can do just as good or better than they were, so it's gonna be on us to make sure we take care of the mental side of everything."

Speaking of that mental strength, or lack thereof at certain points of that Wild Card playoff loss to Pittsburgh, Johnson sees how the coaches learned from it and are using it to build off of and improve upon going into the 2016 season.

"I think you learn from it just like you learn from all setbacks," said Johnson. "I can tell the coaches learned from it just the way they came in this offseason, ya know? In our meetings and stuff and talking about mental aspect, being a team and the foundation of a great team, and that's what we're trying to be is a great team."

Johnson went on to explain how head coach Marvin Lewis and his staff are setting the tone with the team's mentality this offseason and overcoming last season's heartbreak.

"Coach Lewis does a great job of making us think," Johnson said. "This game is a lot more mental than people on the outside know. It's way more. That's why there are sports psychologists and all this stuff. It's very mental. I think we’ll be a much stronger team mentally this year because we’re actually thinking about it. It’s been in conversation, so I'm looking forward to it."

As for Johnson himself,

"I'm just gonna go out and keep working, keep pounding the rock," Johnson said. "It's real. You hit the rock a thousand times. I think we got a new d-line coach in Coach Burney. He has a philosophy that he wants to have a strong rotation. I think that will help us all, to go out and have a strong rotation and be just as strong in the fourth quarter as you were in the first."

Make sure you listen to the full interview.