Bengals defensive end Sam Hubbard said he voted Thursday to practice on the outfield turf because Sunday’s AFC title game (6:30 p.m.-Cincinnati’s Local 12) against the Chiefs is on the turf. Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City.
It seemed like it wasn’t unanimous, but a couple of key guys carried the day.
Though Bengal wide receiver Ja’Marr Chase wandered through the flakes last Sunday in his first snow game like he was born at the North Pole (he scored the first touchdown of the game and led the team with 61 receiving yards ), admitted he wanted nothing to do with Thursday’s 34-degree day.
“Cold? Hell no,” said Chase, the Louisiana native, after practice Thursday, still wrapped in a hoodie under his No. 1 jersey. “Once I got drafted here I had no other choice than to be ready for the cold. We practiced outside today, actually. I’d rather be inside, but if the quarterback says we have to be out, we have to go out. So that’s what it is.”
It is, as they say, what it is.
“I wanted to train outside,” said coach Zac Taylor, “so we were outside today.
“It’s not as cold as it will be, but it’s the last day out for us. The players had a good attitude and we trained well.”
The temperature forecast for Sunday’s kickoff continues to rise, but an overnight low of 12 degrees is expected. The coldest game of the den era is the 17-degree Christmas Eve win in New England.
Taylor is a creature of habit. Since the Bengals opened the IEL Indoor Facility the first week of November, the Bengals have not missed indoor practice every Friday. She is following last week’s routine, working the turf at Paycor Stadium on Wednesday, crossing the street to the turf on Thursday, and finishing the week’s work by Friday.
Plus, they use the interior every day for pre-practice visits.
“(The indoor facility) was amazing,” Taylor said. “The real big difference is just the passing. We do so much work in the passing, being able to avoid the elements and get in there has been fantastic. Our energy on the red zone days on Friday has been fantastic in there.”
Another kid who had never played in the snow can’t explain how he made a truly remarkable one-handed catch on the sideline Sunday at Orchard Park.
“He threw it out there a little faster than I thought,” said Tennessee-born and raised wide receiver Tee Higgins. “But my job is to catch it, so I just reached out and was able to grab it and wrap it around.
“I’m not the cold guy, but I’ll do anything to help this team get a win. Whatever they make us do, I have to do it. (Burrow) can make any call he wants. He absolutely wanted to do that cold drill.”
So did Taylor. In Bengaldom these days, it’s a majority of two.
“We have some guys whose grades matter more than others,” said Hubbard, who was amazed at how offensive players performed last Sunday. “I thought it was really cool. We have a lot of tough guys. Whether it’s injuries or any kind of adversity, we keep overcoming it and time is no different.”