Last week the Cincinnati Bengals completed their mandatory minicamp and felt good about their chances to contend.
The AFC North blog recently caught up with one of the locker-room leaders -- Cincinnati offensive guard Bobbie Williams -- to get his thoughts on this upcoming season.
You were on the free-agent market for a while before returning to Cincinnati. How much did you explore other options?
Bobbie Williams: It wasn't even a matter of going somewhere else. It was just a matter of getting the legalities done. Nothing here with my locker changed. I wasn’t going anywhere. It was just getting some papers signed and coming back. This is home right here.
How much can rookie tight end Jermaine Gresham help this offense?
BW: We got a first-rounder, so we better use him (laughs). Not only him, but Chase [Coffman], Reggie Kelly, Darius [Hill], those guys are awesome. I think they bring what we've been looking for the past couple of years. It's a plus. The more weapons for Carson [Palmer], the better.
BW: We were one of the toughest teams in the AFC -- the AFC North at that. If teams want to still overlook us and not give us our just due, I encourage them to do that. I encourage teams to overlook us and plan for the next week ahead. Don't even game plan for us, you know. Just go out there and run their basic stuff. I encourage all teams to do that. Don't take us serious (smiles).
After your 2005 playoff appearance, it took four years for Cincinnati to get back to the postseason. How do you avoid that trend this time?
BW: First and foremost, the teams are totally different. The maturity on this team, even though it's a younger team, is phenomenal. Guys are way more focused, more hungry and way more professional. The hunger never dies. So it's totally different.