There was nowhere else the Moeller High School product would rather be than playing for his hometown team.
“This is truly a dream come true and accomplishment,” Hubbard said. “My family, financially just secure, ready to play. And it’s an amazing feeling. It’s hard to describe. … It’s a great honor. I think that big contracts can de-motivate guys, but if anything this has made me 10 times more hungry and determined to get where we want to be. It’s a vote of confidence in me as a play, as a leader on this team. And give me the confidence to be a voice and take this team in the locker room the direction we want it to go.”
Bates said he doesn’t have a hard deadline for when he would like an extension to be done, but he’s “not pressing.”
He looks at how long Denver Broncos safety Justin Simmons waited for his new contract and remains confident if he handles the situation in a similar manner, with patience, his time will come. Simmons is the highest paid safety in the league.
Bates said he never considered sitting out until he gets what he wants, as some guys do for fear of injury before signing a contract. He almost had an interception of Burrow near the end of practice Wednesday before Jordan Evans tipped it.
“I’m not pressed for it (a contract) right now, honestly,” said Bates, a Fort Wayne, Ind. native. “I feel like I’ve put myself in a great position where I have great people around me, not just my agent, but my RISE management team as well, having that proposal and strictly believing it’s going to happen at some point. I know what I bring to the table. And I’m just going to be the same guy whether I get deal done this year or not. That’s going to be a leadership part that I’m going to continue to build on. Like I said, everyone’s situations are different. Their beliefs are different. So I’m not going to say there’s a right or a wrong way, but I will set the example for younger guys coming up so that maybe they don’t have to sit out during training camp because they believe it’s going to get done at some point. That’s what I’m going to stand on. That’s the way I think.”
Bates, 24, has taken on a great leadership role this year, including serving as a player rep, but he also remembers what it was like for him as a rookie seeing Carlos Dunlap and Geno Atkins get extensions and more recently last year, Joe Mixon. It was “cool,” he said, to see guys who were drafted by the Bengals play well and get rewarded for it.
Bates, has other goals besides earning a contract. The main one, he said, is winning, but he wants to be able to blitz more, be more physical and he wants to win the “Walter Payton Man of the Year” award.
As for the defense, he’s excited about the competition in the secondary, which features several new cornerbacks. Former Steelers nickel corner Mike Hilton has brought over the practice of charting missed tackles, missed assignments, bad technique and “loafs,” and charging players for those. Bates said that has been a fun source of motivation for perfection.
“We put a little bucket of money together, and hopefully, whoever has the most interceptions gets the pot,” Bates said, noting there were five loafs Wednesday but none from him. “So, it’s just something like that, that’s just easy to talk about it. Being able to have that as an accountability thing, I think definitely helps us try to be the best secondary as we can be.”