OL Joel Bitonio:
On ranking the Bengals rivalry within the division:
"I think that it is hard to rank them. Since I have been here, I think the first team that everybody hated was Pittsburgh. That is what the fans would tell me, like, 'Pittsburgh sucks' and all of that stuff (laughter). [The Bengals] are the in-state team. I feel like we always play them right around the holiday season, Cincinnati. Baltimore has that special feeling because they left Cleveland to become Baltimore. There is something about each team. Cincy being in-state, not too far away. It is always right around Thanksgiving when we play them. They are up there, for sure. I do not think that either team really likes each other. We want to get after them this year, for sure."
On if former Browns Head Coach and Bengals special assistant to the head coach Hue Jackson joining Cincinnati's staff adds to the rivalry this year:
"I am sure that it will. It is funny, we really do not talk about it that much in the locker room. Not too many people are bringing it up, but it is a great story for ESPN and everybody who wants to talk about it. He coached there before, he came here and coached and now he is coaching back over there. He has some moments on both sidelines. It was a pretty quick turnaround for him to be back over there, but I think it is just a small part of it. For us players, we have to play against each other. Players have to play out there."
On if he ever imagined playing against his former head coach in the same season:
"No, I do not think that you think about that. That is not something that you go into the season like, 'Oh, if he gets fired, we might be playing against him," but it happens. The way that I kind of put it into perspective is that you cut a guy like (Chiefs OL) Austin Reiter before camp. He goes to Kansas City. He knows our offense. He knows what we did on offense. He can tell the defense as many things as he wanted. You know what I mean? I kind of think of it the same way. You play against players all of the time that were on your team that you have played against. It is just a coach going to the other sideline. It is definitely a little different, but it is the NFL – you always get different."
On if the Bengals have an advantage, given Jackson's familiarity with the team:
"I am sure that he knows some stuff. I am sure that we know some stuff. Like I said, players go to other teams. Practice squad guys come from different teams. There is so much information passing through the hallways of NFL buildings anyway that if they want to worry about trying to know our play calls or something like that, then there is something that they are not focusing on for the week of preparation. We are going to worry about what we run, how we call it and try to do the best job possible. They have to some good players over there that we have to really focus on."
On Jackson knowing Browns players' strengths and weaknesses:
"Sure, I think that the film also tells that. He might have a better understanding, but if you watch a guy play for 10 games and he has 800 snaps on film now or whatever it is 600 snaps, they are going to know what the strengths and weaknesses of a player are. He might know a little bit more personally, but I think that it is out there. They are going to know if this guy can't handle the bull rush or this guy struggles going one way or the other. I think that they are going to be out there and have that information already."
WR Rashard Higgins:
On what he learned from former Browns Head Coach and Bengals special assistant to the head coach Hue Jackson:
"He taught me a lot – patience is a virtue. He told me how although I might have been cut, how am I going to bounce back from it? He taught me a lot. We text. We do not text every day, but I do keep in touch with him."
On if he has spoken to Jackson since the coaching changes:
On if there is any extra motivation from the team this week facing Jackson:
"It is just another game."
On the message he received from Jackson after being released:
"When they had cut me, I had already went up to him and asked why they cut me. If it was up to him, I think that they would have kept me. When they brought me back in on the practice squad, he was just like 'I am glad that you are back.' I am sure that you all know that the next couple of days I was back at practice, and the next game, I was in there. There was not really a downfall, but it just made me realize that this is a business at the end of the day."
On if Jackson can give the Bengals a significant advantage due to his familiarity with the Browns:
"No, not really. It is up to us. They can tell somebody to do something, and they still won't do it."
On QB Baker Mayfield's growth during the past few weeks:
"He is an expert at what he does. That is why he plays quarterback. We expect that from him. You all see it. We see it. He is going out there to win every game."
On returning from injury to play last week and score a TD:
"It felt great just knowing that I can be out there with my boys. The games that I have been in, we have won. It felt great to be out there. That is it."
On his favorite part of Thanksgiving:
"Well it used to be in college that everybody would leave and the whole campus would get quiet (laughter). I have not really celebrated thanksgiving too much in the last couple of years. Just being able to relax, I guess."
On the Bengals offense with WR A.J. Green:
"I think you can just see a little bit more – especially with (Bengals QB Andy) Dalton at quarterback – just a little more comfort in the pocket knowing he has that elite weapon on the outside. When you have to respect someone like A.J. Green, that opens up lanes and different avenues of the offense if they can exploit it. I think they are just comfortable with the overall scheme and knowing they have a playmaker out there."
On Bengals RB Joe Mixon:
"Joe is a very good back. I think on tape you kind of see he is a thicker back, but he has quickness, good vision and good balance when he gets in the whole so you really have to bring your feet when you go into hit him because he will just shrug off arm tackles. We have a lot of respect for the guy. He is a good weapon for their offense."
On if it is important for the defense to speak with QB Baker Mayfield for a scouting report on Mixon:
"No, we played him last year here. We know what he is about and what he has done, and he is just another year older so another year more experienced."
On former Browns Head Coach and Bengals special assistant to the head coach Hue Jackson and potential advantages provided:
"Obviously, he has been here. He has been in all of the meetings on offense and defense, but like what GW (Head Coach Gregg Williams) says, we can only care about what we know. If we know exactly what we are supposed to do, we do not care if the other team knows what we are going to do. We just have to execute on the field. When it comes down to it, as long as do our job and execute, I do not think it will matter too much."
On the mental state of the team coming off of the bye week, given the team is closest to its healthiest physically all season:
"I think just out of practice today you could feel a good energy. Everybody was happy to be back and happy to be practicing football. The time away just gives you time to relax the mind and relax the body. Guys who are nicked up or are injured coming back body just feeling a lot better healthy. Overall it is exciting to get back in the building after sitting down and watching football for a whole weekend, being able to go out there and play and win some games."