Conference calls: Cincinnati Bengals

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Bengals running back Cedric Benson said he was "real close" to signing with the Texans this offseason.

Cincinnati Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis and running back Cedric Benson, who played at the University of Texas, spoke to the Houston media via conference call on Wednesday.

Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis(on if RB Cedric Benson is even better than he expected) "No, I think he's been about where we expected. But it was one of our priorities to add a running back to our offensive team, and we were pleased it was Cedric."

(on RB Cedric Benson almost signing with the Texans) "Everybody has a lot of guys in, so that's just part of the process."

(on RB Cedric Benson allowing the team to use a one-back running scheme) "We are trying to work two backs in, and we play another back on third down, but Cedric's got a lot of carries and as we go forward, we're going to allow Bernard Scott to continue to get more and more. But he's a young guy right now, and we're trying not to overload him with some of the things yet. But Cedric has proven to be durable. I do think that the more he carries the ball, the more confident he gets, the more on track he stays, and offensively, we've been able to have an opportunity to make some runs in the fourth quarter. Now, if we could ever get a lead, that would be helpful. We could do even better."

(on if he doesn't like the last-minute finishes) "No, we'd prefer not to be that way, but if that's what it is, that's what it is."

(on if Hard Knocks has had any influence on the team's success) "I think, as I said when asked the question 'Why did you agree to do it?'—I thought our football team could handle it. I thought it would be good for the organization, for the NFL, for the city and for the Bengals fans. And having gone through that in 2001 with the Ravens, I was kind of comfortable with how the operation works. But our players could handle it and at some point, when you are successful, you have a better ability to deal with the expectations and so forth that come from the media."

(on winning the game for coach Mike Zimmer) "Well, it was extremely… I guess heartwarming, as people said, surreal to have that occur, knowing what Mike had to go through."

(on the difference QB Carson Palmer has made this year) "I think Carson—you know, when you sit out most of the season and you're not maimed and you just sit there and you feel like you can play and you want to play but the doctor says it's probably best for you not to play, it's hard. You don't have surgery, you don't have this, you don't have that where you know something's really wrong with you, the only thing you can do is throw the ball 55 yards down the field on the line you'd like. That's a difficult thing, and he had to go through that. So it was a good learning experience, I think. I think he began to learn the game more as a coach sees, through a coach's eyes. He was with us every step of the way, and I think that was a benefit for him."

(on Frank Bush and the Texans' defense) "I think their defense is really talented. I think they've figured some things out that maybe, as you said, they weren't doing as well early on. Remember, I attributed that to you; you said that. Frank's been coaching for a long time and been in this game for a longer period of time. I remember Frank as a player. So it's really more of guys settling in to responsibilities and things and getting a feel for how they're supposed to play certain things all the time and repetition of it helps a coordinator."

(on the similarities between the '09 and '05 Bengals) "Well, we're a better football team than we were in '05 as far as our football team. Now, can we play as good? We've got a long ways to see that, but right now, we have a stronger foundation than what we had in '05. It's a much stronger foundation, and I don't know how it's going to turn out. Right now, in my opinion, and I thought this when we entered training camp—week in and week out, that's how you're measured."

(on the Cincinnati defense) "We've got a bunch of guys that most people didn't want, and they really revel in that a little bit. We've gotten through injury and attrition and so forth. We were able to kind of sift through and find some nuggets. We've got great leadership there—guys like Dhani Jones, Chris Crocker. We've got two young, very good cornerbacks. We've got some good pass rushers up front. They're young, an emerging defensive line, and we've got a really young set of linebackers that can make football plays. So, I think it's a group that every week, they know the importance of doing your assignment—11 guys playing together, chasing the football and tackling."

(on former USC LBs Rey Maualuga and Brian Cushing) "Rey's doing everything we ask him to do. He's really a fine player. He understands the game; any errors or critiquing or correction we make with Rey, he's able to make it almost instantaneously. We liked Brian as a prospect coming out in the draft, and now he plays for the Texans."

Bengals RB Cedric Benson
(on how close he came to signing with Texans) "It was real close. I mean, I was there in the office and they were talking about getting the deal done and it kind of just came to a very-last minute decision on the, uh … on the, um … the uh… what would you call that? Whoever makes those decisions, it was like a last-minute decision to not go forward with."

(on the key to them having such a great start) "Well, the plan is just to stay consistent and continue to work as hard as we've done to get to where we're at. You know, it hasn't been easy. All our games came down to the last seconds, and so I think the best thing for us to do is just to go back to work every week. And it's still earlier in the year. We've still got a long season to go and stay consistent."

(on if this season is vindication for him) "Vindication of what?"

(on being on his way to his best season by far) "Yeah, I mean, considering where I'm at individually right now, yeah, I'd say so. Definitely."

(on DE Antwan Odom being tied for the league lead in sacks) "That's awesome stuff for him. He's definitely had a really great year himself thus far, and it's very neat to see him making stops like that, giving an offense a chance to stay on the field."

(on the key to him running so well so far) "I think just sticking with it, not shying away from what we're good at, the plays that we run best. We've got a real good relationship with the line as far as we've got a good chemistry on the field. I press it as far as I can to the heels before I make a decision, and the offensive line and receivers have been blocking excellent downfield. Fullbacks, tight ends, everybody's playing a part in making this a successful run team."

(on the Bengals primarily using a one-back system and if he likes it that way) "Yeah, I love it that way."

(on what stands out to him about the Texans' defense) "Well, you know, they've got a lot of different looks. They've shown a lot of different things each week. Sometimes, they're playing single safety to stop the run. Sometimes, they're playing two safeties high, even in run look, so I think they've just got a couple different looks that they're showing. That's kind of far as we've gotten so far."

(on if the Texans' struggles to stop the run makes him excited) "Well, you can't help but to see the numbers or the stat sheet and see how things are going for them as a defense, but still in mind, they're still a professional team and they did beat us last year. We didn't have as much success on offense as we wanted to last year, so we've definitely got that on our mind and we're treating it as if it's a big-time game. I'm sure as long as we approach it as we've done these previous games, we'll find success."

(on if he's having the most fun he has ever had) "I definitely am. I definitely am. There's no question that I'm having not only the best season of my career but I'm having the funnest season of my career. I'm really enjoying playing professional football.

(on if he considered going anywhere other than Houston in the offseason) "No, not really. I didn't really have that much of a choice. There were just a couple of teams interested."

(on if he's out to show teams that weren't interested that they made a mistake) "You know, I don't really aim to prove anything to anybody in particular other than myself. But I know through me just staying focused and taking care of my business, it's going to pay off dividends and it'll do whatever else it does, whether it be showing people something up or taking me to the top of the charts (laughs)."

(on his thoughts on the Texas-Oklahoma game this weekend) "We're definitely going to pull it off; come on. I know their quarterback, Oklahoma's quarterback, just got back, and I don't think he looked too… he was a little rusty, I think, maybe, coming off the bench, but I know they'll have their things back together and I fully believe that Mack (Brown) and Coach Davies and those guys down there are going to be poised and ready to bring it home. Plus, it's in the new stadium. We're in Texas; the game is in Texas, so I truly believe the Orange will take advantage."

(on what it mean to lead the league in rushing and if he can hold off Adrian Peterson) "I mean, it's fairly early. It's a wonderful place to be. I'm very privileged, a great honor. A lot of the hard work is paying off, things done in the offseason in preparation for the season. But like you said, it is early, and it'll be fun working to hold off Adrian. That'll be a fun little thing, a fun little neat thing, I guess, a little additive to the game to look at at the end of each game."

(on if the fact that they're both from Texas makes the rivalry even more fierce) "Yeah, no doubt. You know, rivalry schools, being from Texas, that's a neat deal. We're friends; nothing like that off the field. But it's fun to be back up in the runnings with the leaders, and I'm sure we'll make the most fun of it."

(on how tough it was to have it so rough in NFL until he got to the Bengals) "I don't know; I never gave up on myself. I knew at some point, it would have to come around. I knew at some point, I was going to make it come around. Just a couple hurdles along the way, which I think needed to be there, I guess, for me in particular. But I managed to make the best of them and turn those into positives, and I'm a better person today because of it, so I think it all kind of paid off to me being where I am today."

(on if he thinks that other people gave up on him) "Yeah, no doubt. Of course. I mean, it's kind of human nature, you know? Especially in this business, it's what have you done for me lately. And with all the negative stuff coming out of Chicago, I never really got started there. The first two years I had to play backup to somebody, had to, and so I never really got started. People were quick to kind of just shy away."

(on if this season has been a revitalization for him) "Without a doubt. A lot of positives going on right now. Like I said, it feels good to be back on track."

(on what it feels like to be a Bengal right now) "It feels good. It feels privileged. This is a team, we don't got a whole lot of stars. We go to work, we play hard and work to be consistent, and I'm very privileged to be a part of a team that goes to work every day and works hard and shows up in the offseason and things like that and works to be better than they were the last week."

(on what it meant to win the game for defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer last week) "I'm sure for the guys who were close to Coach Zimmer, know his wife and his family and were real close to him, you could imagine it was a great honor for them. It was a neat deal for him to experience that, I'm sure, beating the Ravens and doing it in the fashion that we did, last seconds as usual, and I'm sure it was a neat deal for him and his family to experience. That was a bit of joy for him and his family in a little bit of a tough weekend."

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