Who Dey! What’s up, people? Anyone growing a mustache for men’s health? I don’t grow a great “mo,” so I’m going with the “no-shave” Movember! Let the scruff grow. Some teammates grow a mean ’stache but not me.

The overtime loss was so weird.
We were in third and long, expecting
to at worst punt, then suddenly
the game’s over. It sucked!

Hey, I’m back in Cincinnati after a mini-break back home in Indiana after our Thursday night game in Miami. It was good to get away after our really weird and tough overtime loss to the Dolphins, but we’re still in first in the AFC North (6-3).

Let’s talk about our two huge, upcoming divisional games against Baltimore and Cleveland. And a little bit more about my first bow-and-arrow deer takedown—it’s unlike any other feeling, something similar to the butterflies you get before a football game.

But let’s start off talking about what it’s like inside the locker room halfway through my first season. Before you come in, you have these images of what it’s going to be like or what people will say to you. For me, it’s just gone smoother than I imagined.

We’ve got guys in the locker room who really care about each other and who’ve looked out for me. Being a rookie they poke fun at you and have a good time about it. I’ve also been lucky with Jermaine Gresham and Alex Smith in the tight end room to help me out. That reported incident of bullying in Miami, I’m sure the league will quickly sort that out. In our locker room, we have nothing but respect for each other, and our coach, Marvin Lewis, always talks up team spirit and unity.

Even after a depressing loss on a safety in OT to Miami. We didn’t see it coming. The Sunday before that, we beat the Jets 49-9 and everything clicked. I’ve never really been a part of a game where everything is going so well on both sides of the ball and on special teams. It was a lot of fun. Wideout Marvin Jones had four touchdown receptions, Andy Dalton threw a career-high five touchdowns. And the defense returned two picks for long touchdowns, including Adam Jones—who did a real funny celebration, sliding down the goal post!

People saw that as a statement game. We had a short week to prepare for Miami but thought we were good to go. But we kind of shot ourselves in the foot, had some dropped passes and had other opportunities to win. But it was so weird. We were in third and long, expecting to at worst punt, then suddenly the game’s over. It sucked! Coach Lewis just said we fought hard the entire game but there are no moral victories in the NFL.

But this mini-break gave us an opportunity to reset for these two big division games and put everything we have into them because we’ve got our bye right after them. These games will go a long way in determining who wins the division.

It’s true what they say. Tyler really is a BIG GAME player.

There’s definitely been more media coverage lately. We played Pittsburgh on Monday night, then we play them again on Sunday night. The rivalries and what’s at stake are all magnified. Some of our guys who’ve been here four or five years have played maybe eight to ten times against our opponents, so personal rivalries also develop.

With these games, it’s about consistency, about how you come to work and prepare, and that’s no different than against other teams. First we got a tough road game against the Super Bowl champs, Baltimore. If we stick together when things in-game are not going our way, keep to the plan, don’t flinch and keep going, good things will happen. The best-case scenario of 8-3 at the bye would be nice!

I blogged before that hunting is my way to get away. I was recently out with my buddy T.J. Johnson and I got my first bow kill—a 10-point whitetail buck. I used my Mathews Z9 from Broken Rack Archery. I was in a tree stand 25 feet up, and below me were plants like turnips that the deer feed on. I’m in full Sitka camo gear. I enjoy painting my face—I don’t wear a mask. Even on the football field, I prefer to use the real eye black as opposed to the stickers.

Anyway, you’re on a small platform with a seat—they don’t trim too many branches because you still want cover. It was early evening and this buck came by itself. My heart was bursting out of my chest, you’re shaking and it’s crazy what a rush it is. I wasn’t sure I’d hit it because it took a few steps like it was just spooked, then it went down. Wow!

To make sure the meat doesn’t spoil, you have to field dress the animal. You need two main things, a strong stomach and an excellent skinning knife like a Havalon. I’m getting better at it, but it’s not the most glorious thing, a little messy. It took maybe ten minutes. T.J., who’s on our practice roster, has a dehydrator and we put some meat in to make our own jerky. The food processing company also made us some summer sausage and hamburger. The meat is very lean, so it’s good for you with less fat.

Next time I’ll tell you about a funny story that happened back home in the middle of the night.

Please hit me up on Twitter @EiferTy85. Go Irish, and Who Dey!

As told to Ashley Jude Collie