Bengals cornerback Leon Hall didn't shy away from the defense's goal for this season.
“We want to be the best defense in the league," Hall told 1530 Homer in Cincinnati, via SportsRadioInterviews.com. "We don’t have a number for how many yards or whatever it is but for that given year, we want to be the best defense out there. Total defense we want to be number one and scoring defense also.”
The Bengals defense was ranked first in the NFL after four weeks last season, the first time that's happened in 28 years. But over the final 12 games, the Cincinnati defense gave up 329.8 yards per game, which was 54 more per game than in the first four.
It didn't help that Hall was lost to a season-ending Achilles injury during the season. In the first nine games with Hall, the Bengals gave up eight touchdown passes. In the last seven regular-season games without him, they allowed 12 touchdown passes.
Hall said the key to the Bengals going from the NFL's seventh-ranked defense, their final 2012 ranking, to first is consistency.
"There’s always those games, even before I got hurt, there were games that we had where we weren’t as solid as we needed to be," Hall said. "The same thing I noticed at the end of the year. Sometimes for whatever reason we’re not as consistent as we need to be. It sounds cliché but it’s the truth. You just have to be real consistent to be one of the best defenses in the NFL.”
Just like he said at the mandatory minicamp last week, Hall still believes he can return by training camp. Hall didn't participate in any drills this offseason because he continues to rehab the Achilles injury.
“I feel pretty close," he said. "I don’t have a percentage for you but as far as the work that I’m doing and how well I’m doing it, I feel pretty close. Obviously, it’s a little different from doing my drills on the side and being on the actual football field with 10 other players. I feel confident that I will be able to do it. I’m going to be smart about it, but at the same time, training camp is my goal and I’m going to stick to it.”