Sunday, November 10, 2002

Levi: Life as a Rookie

Each Sunday, Bengals first-round draft pick Levi Jones talks about life as an NFL rookie.

It felt good to get our first win at Houston, but it's just a steppingstone. We have to feed off that to get more of them. Everybody's happy about this win, but then people knock us because it was an expansion team. We exploited a good defense and got some things done against them.

It was the team going through the experience of coming up a few inches short against Tennessee (that was key). We pulled together after the close game. The media stirred up a lot of stuff with the guarantee story, but the players just wanted to get it done.

I feel more comfortable and confident each week. I've gained more knowledge of the game. My goal is to keep improving on a steady line and not make the same mistakes twice.

After four starts, I don't feel like a rookie. You can't carry yourself like a rookie on the field. The defense will try to test you and attack any weaknesses they see. Your mental state has to be that of a veteran. You can't get lost. You have to know what's going on with every play. You've got to play like you've been playing for 10 years.

I firmly believe you get out what you put in. If I hadn't been studying, I wouldn't be able to do the things I'm doing.

People keep talking about me having room to grow. I don't think they were talking about my size. I think they were talking about growing mentally and being able to grasp the concept of the game.

We're going to face a team that probably won't have Ray Lewis, but it's not a team that's going to be without Ray Lewis. Their defense has been playing well in his absence. Every play, there are a whole lot of purple jerseys around the ball.

I didn't get to watch the Bengals and Jeff Blake much when I was growing up on the West Coast. I'm sure our defensive line will want to get to Blake.

Our quarterback is Jon Kitna. ... I've started my four games with Jon in there. But if you look back, you get stuck in the past. People are talking about the what-if question, what if Jon had started all year. He's playing great ball right now, and, hopefully, the offensive line can keep providing the time for him to make the throws. We want to help him in any way possible. He's a good man, a good player, a guy who's always looking to help somebody out, a good Christian guy.

As told to Mark Curnutte

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Bengals' defense will need to step up once again
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Levi: Life as a Rookie
Bengals, Ravens stats
Bengals-Ravens by the numbers
NFL notebook, standings
Are you ready for some Monday Night Football history?
Curnutte's NFL power rankings

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