The Cincinnati Bengals’ Taylor Mays has been getting a lot of attention lately, beginning with his numerous funny scenes in Hard Knocks and continuing with his experiment as a nickel linebacker in wake of the season-ending injury to Emmanuel Lamur.
Mays, who is a fourth-year player from USC, sat down for this week’s Bengals High Five and talked about Hard Knocks, his position change and the difficulty of being a Trojans fan after the upset loss to Washington State on the heels of a disappointing 2012.
What’s been the reaction of your friends and family members to your Hard Knocks appearances?
My friends and family know me for being me, so I don’t know if they saw anything different. I think it’s hard to understand me as a person for someone who doesn’t know me. They see me on TV and they’re like ‘What in the hell is he talking about?’
The one scene where the talked about your backpack collection, did any companies send you any free ones?
It’s not really a collection. I think it was just the idea of having a Ninja Turtle backpack that the Hard Knocks people latched on to. I didn’t really care when they asked me to put it on. Maybe some people might think that’s weird, but I don’t necessarily think it’s weird. I wasn’t trying to draw attention to myself. I was just being myself.
Is it tough to be a USC fan right now?
It’s tough because you’re used to seeing SC playing really well. That part has been tough to see, especially because it’s not that far removed from when I was there and when we were so dominant. There’s too much going on for USC for them to not play well. At some point they’re going to come back and start doing really well.
Did you feel comfortable Sunday in your new role as a linebacker?
Yeah, I did. (linebackers coach Paul) Guenther was able to make things easy me. He kept it simple. I was just able to focus on what I had to do. I wasn’t thinking a whole lot, which made it a lot easier for me. Especially because I only had a couple of tries at something that was different.
Now that you’ve had time to go back and watch the film, how do you think you performed?
I feel good about it. There’s some stuff that you see on film, and when you walk into your living room you relive some things and think about what you could have done different. But I think I can help the team in this new role. I’m just trying to be really, really, really good at it.
Who: Pittsburgh Steelers (0-1) at Cincinnati Bengals (0-1)
When: 8:40 p.m. Monday
Where: Paul Brown Stadium, Cincinnati
TV: ESPN, Ch. 5
Radio: 1530-AM; 102.7-FM; 104.7-FM