CINCINNATI — Bengals safety Jessie Bates was honest with reporters on Monday when asked about his performance during the first half of the season.
"I feel like my mind was ... Honestly, it was on other things throughout the first part of the season," Bates said.
The fourth-year safety is in the final year of his rookie contract. His agent and the Bengals were unable to come to an agreement before the season started.
A deal could still get done at some point, but admitting that he wasn't totally focused on football is a glaring admission from Bates, who was arguably the Bengals' best player coming into the season.
"That's what makes Jessie such a great player is that he knows he capable of being one of the top safeties to play this game in a long time," Bengals head coach Zac Taylor said. "That's his standard for himself, so when guys like that feel like they're not living up to their standard they're hard on themselves. I didn't hear what his answer was, but that's why you like coaching guys like that, because their mentality is they've always got to get better."
Does Taylor agree that Bates' play has fallen off this season?
"I think he's like everybody on this team, there have been a lot of really good moments for Jessie and this entire defense," Taylor said. "Over the last two weeks our team has to get back to where we were the weeks before that. I have a lot of faith that we will."
Bates has 55 tackles and one interception in eight games this season. He only has one pass defensed after having a career-high 15 pass breakups a season ago.
That number has to go up in the second half of the season if Bates is going to help the Bengals make a playoff run.
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