Since coming into the NFL in 2007, Leon Hall has been a pillar of consistency in the Bengals secondary. Despite his individual success, the former All-Pro has had a taste of the playoffs just one time in his career and that was all about to change a season ago as it looked like the Bengals were on their way to the postseason again. Of course Cincinnati made it, but Leon Hall was forced to watch from the sidelines after tearing his Achilles in November against the Pittsburgh Steelers. Such a significant injury creates a lot of uncertainty and it’s normally an injury that takes a long time to recover from. The Bengals used their first pick in the draft on Dre Kirkpatrick. Depending on how quickly Hall can regain his form, Kirkpatrick will either be nice insurance policy or Cincy could have the makings of secondary that can anchor the defense for years to come.
Leon Hall joined 1530 Homer in Cincinnati with Mo Egger to talk about how close to a return he is, what is the hardest thing about trying to come back from such a significant injury, what he thinks of rookie cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick, what the defense has to do to take the next step and what the goal of the defense is at the beginning of the season.
How close to a return he is:
“I feel pretty close. 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.”
On the hardest thing about trying to come back from such a significant injury:
“I think it’s just the mental aspect of it. Part of it, like you said, is just being on the sidelines or watching the game on TV at the end of last year but as far as rehabbing and stuff, you just have to mentally stay strong. There’s a certain point where my Achilles’ are strong enough to do certain things but if I didn’t have any confidence in doing it it would be very hard to do. It’s just kind of getting over the mental aspect of it, which I don’t have to deal with now because I’m pretty confident, but earlier in the stage you kind of always have those doubts and just stuff you have to try to get over really.”
His thoughts on Dre Kirkpatrick:
“I think he should be very good for us. He had a little injury earlier on but he was able to bounce back from it and play pretty well throughout the mini-camp so everybody here, especially in the DB circles, are counting on him to come in and play well and he showed he can. We’re excited about him and he’s getting the playbook which not everyone can do so it’s great.”
What the Bengals defense has to do to take the next step and be one of the top defenses in the NFL:
“Part of it is being consistent. 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. 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.”
On the goal of the defense at the beginning of the season:
“We want to be the best defense in the league. 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.”