In his first four seasons with the Pittsburgh Steelers, receiver Mike Wallace suited up eight times against the Bengals. That past experience in the rugged AFC North rivalry gives Wallace some credibility when talking about how good the 2014 Bengals can be.
What does Wallace — currently playing for the Miami Dolphins — think of Thursday night’s opponent?
“Honestly, I think this is possibly the best team they’ve had just from a chemistry standpoint,” Wallace said during a conference call Tuesday. “When they had Chad (Ochocinco), T.O. (Terrell Owens) and those guys I think they had a really good offense. I think as far as team chemistry goes … this team is going really strong and building off the last two years. I think this is the best team Cincinnati has had since I’ve been in the NFL.
“I think they have maybe the best front four in the league when you’re going off just the rushing and trying to get after the quarterback. It’s crazy how much pressure they can get.”
The fifth-year receiver knows a little something about chemistry. He had it in Pittsburgh with quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, twice posting 1,000-yard seasons and catching 32 of his 33 career TDs. He’s trying to find it with Miami quarterback Ryan Tannehill.
Wallace has 30 catches for 398 yards and one TD with the Dolphins.
“It’s a whole different offense, you’re coming to a whole different system, a whole different staff. You just gotta get used to the way things go,” said Wallace, who signed a $60 million, five-year deal in the off season. “People want it to happen overnight but it doesn’t really happen like that too often when people change teams. You gotta get the chemistry down. I think we’ll be fine over time.”
There is one transition Wallace has adjusted to quickly in Miami. When Wallace got up Tuesday the temperature was in the mid 70s. It was in the mid 40s in Pittsburgh.
“I haven’t been around the cold in a while,” Wallace said. “When we get off the plane in New England (last Sunday) and it’s cold, I’m not used to this no more. That’s the best thing, knowing it’s November and it’s still like 88 degrees.”
Ailing offense: Offensive lineman Andrew Whitworth (knee) and receiver Mohamed Sanu (shoulder) did not practice for the second straight day Tuesday. If Sanu can’t play Thursday expect Marvin Jones and Dane Sanzenbacher to see more action.
“Marvin would start in some of the two wide-receiver formations. We’d continue to alternate the guys but obviously Sanzenbacher would play more and so forth,” Bengals coach Marvin Lewis said. “They’re both doing well and pressing for time and opportunity. When they get it they’re making good on it.”
Pick Six: The Bengals returned two interceptions for touchdowns in Sunday’s 49-9 win over the New York Jets, but they are minus-1 overall in turnover differential. The Bengals offense has committed 13 turnovers through eight games, while the defense has forced 12 turnovers.
Last season the Bengals finished plus-4 in turnover differential.
“They come in bunches and you have to keep working at it. We were low last year early then we hit a stride,” Lewis said. “We’ve got to keep tackling well, batting the football and defending the catch and you have an opportunity to create some turnovers.
“I think turnovers are vital because your best defense is when your offense is on the field. It’s been proven.”