After practice on Thursday, Joe Burrow walked up to Josh Bynes to pick the veteran’s brain and ask how he outsmarted him on an interception.
A very smart move on the part of the rookie. Why? Because, Bynes is a guy who studied a lot of film and learned under Ed Reed and Ray Lewis. Despite turning 31-year-old this Monday - and being surrounded by three talented rookies and a talented second-year player in Germaine Pratt - Bynes’ veteran savvy will probably make him a starter in Cincinnati.
Clearly, the addition of Bynes was a wise move the Bengals even if you only consider the role he’ll play in the development of rookies Logan Wilson, Akeem-Davis Gaither, and Markus Bailey.
Wilson praised Bynes’ knowledge, saying:
“He is like a walking football library. He’s so smart. He is the smartest player I’ve ever been around personally... He knows so much football. He knows why the offense does things this way or how we should respond to playing it. There’s a reason why he has been in the league for so long and played with a lot of guys and in a lot of systems and learned a football.”
The third-round pick out of Wyoming will make sure to take advantage of his time practicing with Bynes. He said, “I’m just going to piggyback off him and try to learn as much as I can from him, because he’s about as smart as they come.”
Wilson also appreciates the example Bynes sets for younger players by continuing to try to learn about the game and the new system he is in. Wilson said: “I noticed even during Zoom meetings in the spring some stuff he would ask the coaches and I was like, ‘Woah, I need to figure my stuff out first.”
And Wilson is not the only linebacker who’s greatly benefiting from Bynes’ presence. Defensive coordinator is starting Bynes next to each of the four young linebackers. Bengals.com’s Geoff Hobson writes that the veteran is using his time with them as teaching opportunities: “And you can see Bynes directing Davis-Gaither in the huddle, checking in with Wilson on the sidelines and maybe grabbing Bailey or the undrafted rookie, Marcel Spears, Jr., during special teams.”
Fortunately, Bynes likes what he sees in the rookie linebackers: “Right now, [Wilson] is doing great. He’s picking up the defense well... Akeem, Logan, Markus, they are all pretty athletic and all do their thing. Akeem as well is showing his athletic ability covering guys as well. Markus is going 110 percent each and every play regardless of what is going on he is going to give it his all. All three of them are doing a great job right now.”
One thing he emphasized is that it’s important for them to learn to let their mistakes go: “That’s what it is all about. Especially as a rookie. You dread that mistake because you feel like you have a microscope on you 24/7, which you do, but you can’t let that wear you out and just move on to the next play.”
It should come as no surprise that Bynes was one of the smartest signings of the offseason for the Bengals. His experience on contending teams and with Hall of Fame players should elevate the play of the Bengals’ defense far above what we saw last year.