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Bengals News (12/5): Behind Cincinnati’s defensive resurgence

The Bengals defense had a major turnaround, but how did they go from terrible to pretty good?

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New York Jets v Cincinnati Bengals Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images

Wide Receiver John Ross makes his return to the lineup at Cleveland in Week 14
Lack of separation. Zero speed. That’s been the constant cry of Bengaldom in a year without A.J. Green and John Ross to stretch the field and scorch defensive genius. You just have to read Tom Brady’s Sunday night lips and Zac Taylor’s Wednesday morning mind to know how important that all is across the NFL.

Zac Taylor and Andy Dalton spoke with the media to preview the Week 14 game against the Cleveland Browns.
“It’s an exciting week for us. It’s our first chance to play Cleveland. We finished off those other two teams in the division, so it’s our first crack at these guys. The guys are excited for it. It’s a chance to go on the road and work (toward) our first divisional win. That will be big for our season. They’ve had the right attitude today. We’ve moved on from the last game. It’s time to focus on these guys and move forward. We’re excited about that.

The Bengals signed rookie WR Damion Willis to the practice squad.
Willis was waived by the Bengals yesterday, and he cleared waivers today. He originally was a college free agent signee of the Bengals in May. He has played in 10 games (two starts) and totaled nine catches for 82 yards this season.

Joe Mixon is 357 yards away from becoming the first Bengals running back to go for 1,000 yards in back-to-back seasons since Cedric Benson
Joe Mixon is 357 yards away from becoming the first Bengals running back to go for 1,000 yards in back-to-back seasons since Cedric Benson went for three straight from 2009-2011. He thinks that would be quite an accomplishment given how opposing defenses treat him.

Taylor Made Takes: What win No. 1 means for the Bengals senior writer Geoff Hobson sat down with head Zac Taylor to talk about getting that first win, how Bengals icon James Brown (J.B.) led him through his first victorious Who Dey chant and why A.J. Green is about the only topic in the future he’ll discuss. And it's just fine if they win and don't get the first pick.

Bengals DE Carlos Dunlap today was named AFC Defensive Player of the Week for his performance in last week’s win vs. the N.Y. Jets.
Dunlap tied a career-high with three sacks last week, including two on third downs that forced Jets punts. He also had three additional QB hits in the game, along with a pass defensed on a third down that forced a Jets punt. Dunlap and the Bengals defense held the Jets without a TD on Sunday, and their six points allowed was the lowest total across the NFL in Week 13.

Jonah Williams’ chances of playing in 2019 dwindling
“I don’t foresee him playing in a game this season, but we’ll see," Taylor said during his press conference on Monday. "We’ve still got a little bit more time to sort that out.”

John Ross says joint injury nearly threatened his life, but he's ready to return in Week 14 vs. Browns -
Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver John Ross will return to the field this Sunday for the first time in more than two months. The speedy third-year wideout went down with an injury late during the Bengals' 27-3 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers in Week 4 that forced the team to place him on injured reserve.

Zac Taylor, Bengals' head coach, on hot seat, per USA TODAY Sports
The Cincinnati Bengals' head coach ranks seventh of the seven head coaches on the hot seat, according to Middlehurst-Schwartz, with the Cleveland Browns' Freddie Kitchens ranking sixth as the AFC North rivals prepare to meet this Sunday in Cleveland.

Cincinnati Bengals defense continues to improve
“We made the point after the bye to throw away those first eight weeks and just continue to work on getting better, and the wins will come because of it," Bengals coach Zac Taylor said. "Outside of that Baltimore game when it got away from us, you’ve seen improvement, especially on defense, in all the other games.”

Around the league

Sean McVay on using Gurley more: 'Not being an idiot'
"Me not being an idiot," he said before expanding. "I think he's felt good and really, he's done a nice job with that. You look at the Chicago game and then kind of just going from there, you don't want to make the same mistakes that you ended up making earlier on in the season. I think he's done a nice job handling a bigger workload, but then also, you do have confidence in those other guys if they need to give him a spell."

Raiders QB Derek Carr: 'I've had a rough two weeks'
The Raiders' defense has been carved up, but that has been the case much of the season. The biggest issue for Jon Gruden's team the last two weeks, however, was the offense falling apart like a 1984 jalopy. Oakland went 147 plays between touchdowns before last week's garbage-time score.

Injuries: Chiefs place Darrel Williams (hamstring) on IR
Williams' season ends after 41 carries for 141 rushing yards and three touchdowns, 15 receptions for 167 yards and a score, and one fumble lost. Williams played the big-back role alongside Damien Williams and LeSean McCoy, often earning the tough yards between the tackles.

Antwaun Woods arrested on marijuana poss. charge
NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported Thursday that Woods was arrested on Tuesday at a traffic stop and charged with possession of marijuana over two ounces but less than four ounces, tampering with evidence, and cited for possession of paraphernalia, according to the Frisco Police Department.