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Coach Talk: Interpreting Marvin Lewis' roster cut-down press conference

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Marvin Lewis held a press conference on Tuesday to give the latest updates following the initial round of roster cuts. What did he say, and more importantly, what did he really mean? We try to decipher the differences.

NFL: Preseason-Minnesota Vikings at Cincinnati Bengals
Marvin Lewis ready to back up Dalton, as the team cuts down its roster?
David Kohl-USA TODAY Sports

On Tuesday, Bengals’ head coach Marvin Lewis opened up for the media, offering his thoughts and insights during his weekly press conference. This week, Lewis focused on the topic of roster cuts as the team cut the roster down to 75 players on Tuesday. But as usual, we have made another attempt to decipher what Lewis meant by his comments, which are often hard to really understand.

Question: What are you expecting from Tra Carson and Bronson Hill on Thursday, after Cedric Peerman’s injury?

Lewis’ Response: They get an opportunity to show the ability to stay here...Now they’ll get to share four quarters, so its great for them.

There are instances in the lore of coaching tactics where a coach would give a young man a playbook and tape a $100 bill inside the book. After a while, the coach would ask for the playbook back and see if the $100 was still there, or if the player had taken it without admitting to taking it. It was a tactic used to judge the character of the young man. Lewis here mentions that he will be using a variation of this, with four quarters for both Carson and Hill to share. Four quarters can get you a $1.00 burger on a value meal, so if the four quarters are missing, Lewis will probably search both players’ lockers to see if one of the lockers hides a burger wrapper – if so, it’s a good bet that will be the running back who is cut.


Question: Is there a hope that Brandon Thompson can come back later this year?

Lewis’ Response: Yes...hopefully sometime in the future.

Here, the reporter is trying to trap Lewis in a trick question, asking if he hopes Thompson will return. Even if the team doesn’t want Thompson to return, they come across as the bad guy if they say “no” they don’t want him to return. Lewis takes the high road and says “yes” he hopes Thompson returns to the team.


Question: Cutting the roster from 75 to 53, how taxing can that be as a coach?

Lewis’ Response: It’s tough. Dispatching 21 guys like we have to when we go to that point, it is.

For many of us who have already gone through school, 75 – 53 = 22, but according to Lewis, 75 – 53 = 21. From this comment, we can gain insight into the team; they are using “common core” math throughout the organization, possibly as mandated by the NFL.

Lewis’ Response (continued): It’s a lot of work for the personnel department to get those guys processed out all the way through.

While it may be rough to be on the receiving end of being released, realizing that your NFL dream has come to an end, Lewis makes sure to point out those who truly face the most anguish in the whole ordeal – the personnel who have to do the paperwork, kicking those players to the curb.


Question: How open are you to pulling from the pool of players?

Lewis’ Response: Very open. We’ll continue to look. We’ll look at what the other 31 teams do, and see if there is somebody that upgrades us in a spot on the 53-man roster.

If a player is drowning in the pool, I think it would be silly to think that Lewis would not want to pull that player from the pool. Second year cornerback Josh Shaw set a good example by jumping from a second story window to pull somebody from a pool while he was with USC. (That’s the story, right?) Hopefully Lewis wouldn’t injure himself like Shaw did, though.


Question: The practice squad has been a big factor in developing players. Is that a critical part of the process?

Lewis’ Response: It fits well for the development of young players. It’s really the only developmental league we have, and it’s a great opportunity for the NFL to continue to coach and mentor these young guys and develop them mentally and physically.

Lewis points out that there is no sort of “minor league” system run by the NFL, but seems to overlook the lower level leagues of paid players who find their way into the NFL, such as the SEC and Big 10, not to mention the CFL or various indoor leagues. What about them, huh?!