CINCINNATI - After two straight losing seasons, Bengals players say they expect to be better in 2018.
Cornerback Dre Kirkpartick didn't promise the team will make the playoffs after going 7-9 and 6-9-1 the past two years, but players appeared optimistic when they reported for training camp on Wednesday.
"Not putting any high expectations on it. Worry about the playoffs when they get here," Kirkpatrick said in the locker room, looking ahead to the team's first practice at 3 p.m. Thursday next to Paul Brown Stadium.
Getting off to a good start is the key, Kirkpatrick said.
"Have to take care of starting off fast. Take care of the beginning of the season. I feel like we can. I feel like the schedule is set up for us to do it. We have the guys in the room to do it. Have a good camp, injury free and start fast.
Speedy wide receiver John Ross, last year's first-round draft choice, stumbled out of the gate and didn't catch a single pass. He's looking for a fresh start.
"Feel better," said Ross. "Think a lot of people are feeling good. We got a new chance to create some new things. We got a new mentality so I think it's gonna be great."
Defensive end Carl Lawson said "little things" will be important. He seemed to be talking about discipline.
"The little things culminate into making a good team, especially in the NFL," Lawson said. "Nobody get in trouble. People making the plays they need to make. Following the defense. Going to sleep at night. That's a little thing. Sounds like it doesn't matter, but little things make or break teams."
Practices (except for Aug. 10) are open to the public.