CINCINNATI -- Defensive coordinator Paul Guenther found some inspiration for his unit in an unusual place this week.
The Cincinnati Bengals were dogged with the reputation of being unable to close out games last season. Guenther plans to change that.
"I told them I was going by Wendy's the other day and saw 'help wanted, in need of closers,'" he said. "So we need some guys who can go in there and close the game out for us. Some of these guys can do that."
Maybe it was Guenther's inspiration, or perhaps, he joked, the extensive breathers they got Friday while the rest of the squad did special-teams work.
"They had plenty of rest with all that special teams going on," Guenther said. "Maybe that's why."
The Bengals' defense clearly had won the day at the conclusion of Friday's practice.
Whatever it was, the defense seemed to have the offensive line's number on Friday during team drills. Quarterback Andy Dalton had to get passes off quickly, making quick throws to the running back or tight end.
The Bengals worked on some two-minute situations during practice. With coaches declaring there were 30 seconds left, Dalton found Tyler Eifert on a play that was ruled out of bounds by the officials in attendance. On the next play, Carlos Dunlap beat Jake Fisher to get in Dalton's face, but Dalton got the ball to Tyler Boyd anyway. Dalton then made a quick throw to running back Giovani Bernard, but the series ended when Carl Lawson beat Cedric Ogbuehi to "sack" Dalton.
The Bengals dropped defensive end Jordan Willis into coverage on another series of team plays, and he broke up a pass from Dalton to Eifert. Dalton was sent scrambling on the next play, followed by a false start from Ogbuehi, before Dalton found Boyd again.
On one of the final sets of team drills, working in the red zone, Dalton looked for his most reliable target in A.J. Green, but he was locked step for step with cornerback William Jackson III, who had managed to knock him off his route. The ball sailed over Green's head.
"His thing is putting one good day on top of another and not regressing," Guenther said of Jackson. "One day this week I kind of got on him because his technique was a little bit off. We're just going to stay on top of him and his technique because I think he understands the schemes of everything at this point."
The series ended with several nice touchdown runs from Bernard and Jeremy Hill.
"We're in full pads out here, we're not [hitting the] quarterback, but they can get off the ball, work their hands, and they did a one-minute drill, so they did a good job," Guenther said.
Growing pains: Cornerback Bene Benwikere seemed confused about his assignment on one play that occurred during team drills. ... Willis was called for being offside and had a neutral zone infraction. ... Lawson was drawn inside on a bootleg play that gained several yards and had trouble dropping into coverage on a few plays. ... Trey Hopkins, working at center, snapped the ball over Dalton's head. ... Receiver Brandon LaFell was left wide open in what appeared to be a busted coverage.
Plays of the day: Bernard had a touchdown run of about 20 yards when the team was doing red zone work, aided by a key block from Clint Boling. ...Wallace Gilberry batted down Dalton's pass at the line of scrimmage. ... Green made a sliding catch from Dalton down the sideline. ... Dalton had a play-action fake to Hill and found Green for a big gain. ... Demetrious Cox appeared to pick off AJ McCarron in the end zone, but the ball was hit out of his hands and into the hands of Josh Shaw. ... DeShawn Williams beat Dustin Stanton to sack Jeff Driskel. ... Driskel had a nice throw down the seam to Levonte Whitfield. ... McCarron was sacked by Ryan Glasgow, who beat Eric Winston to pressure him again on the next play. ... Geno Atkins pressured McCarron on two straight plays and appeared to be handling Winston easily.
Injury report: Derron Smith and Joe Mixon returned to practice. Smith has not practiced since he was injured on the third day of training camp. Mixon left Thursday's practice early with an injured foot. ... George Iloka (knee) remained out of practice. ... Cedric Peerman, Brandon Wilson, Jake Kumerow, Chris Brown, David Dean, T.J. Johnson and Tony McRae did not practice. ... PJ Dawson watched practice with his arm in a cast.