CINCINNATI -- After five days away from Paul Brown Stadium, the Cincinnati Bengals return Monday morning for meetings and practices as they settle back into game preparation mode.
With last week's bye, the Bengals spent one day on the practice fields, primarily using their brief time around the stadium to evaluate themselves. After three weeks and three convincing wins, there may not appear to be much they need to fix, but players and coaches would claim otherwise. There are some offensive tweaks they'll have to make in order to better finish drives in the end zone. There are others still that have to be made to get the running backs bursting bigger gains than they have to this point in the young season.
There are some defensive fixes the Bengals also want to make in an effort of ensuring the pressure remains aggressive. As the first three games have shown, the more aggressive the Bengals are in key defensive situations, the better they are. After allowing two third-down conversions on the first drive of their Week 3 game against the Titans, the Bengals buckled down and shut Tennessee out on third down for the remainder of the game. That was 10 consecutive third downs after the opening drive without a first down.
The corrections that came out of last week's self-scouting likely will be implemented during Monday afternoon's practice, with the remainder of the Bengals' game plan for Sunday night's contest against the Patriots going into effect later this week.
Television sets in Cincinnati ought to be tuned to this week's Monday night game on ESPN. The Patriots, ahead of a short week this week, are on the road Monday facing the Chiefs as Week 4 comes to an end.
With such a strong start to the season and this somewhat awkward early break in the year, there are reasons the Bengals could be a little concerned about next week's game. Among the biggest concerns is the fact that the placement of this bye week might stall the momentum the Bengals built at the outset of the year.
At least one player wasn't too worried about the bye, and is optimistic the injury-depleted Bengals will come out of the off week better than they were before it.
"For me, it's a good week to work on the little things, maybe work on the things that you struggle at," kicker Mike Nugent said last week. "That's what I'm going to take care of this week and hopefully get a little rest as well."
Last week's bye also was expected to give injured starters Marvin Jones, Vontaze Burfict and Kevin Zeitler an extra few days of rest as they fight through respective injuries. Jones was one of three Bengals who returned to practice last Tuesday after sitting out since the preseason. He had a foot injury. Reserves Rex Burkhead and Sean Porter had knee and hamstring injuries, respectively.
Burfict hopes to come off concussion protocol this week after dealing with concussion issues in the first two games of the year. He didn't play against Tennessee in Week 3. Zeitler was hurt in Week 2 when he suffered a serious calf injury. The right guard is expected back around mid-October.