Back in July, Jessie Bates III was already thinking about the rivalry games between the Cincinnati Bengals and the Pittsburgh Steelers.

As a rookie safety for the Bengals, Bates had heard all of the stories about the highly intense battles between the teams and couldn’t wait to be a part of them.

‘Once they got loud on Sunday, I feel we got to playing a lot better’

Bates gets his first chance Sunday, when the AFC North opponents square off at Paul Brown Stadium.

“I hope the fans show out because I feel like the fans are doing a really good job and we feed off their energy,” he told Alex Marvez and Gil Brandt on Late Hits. “Once they got loud on Sunday (during the Bengals’ 27-17 comeback win against Miami), I feel we got to playing a lot better, a lot more energy throughout the defense and offense. So once the Steelers come to town, I’m sure the fans will be hyped for that as well. And I’m sure my teammates and I will be just as ready.”

‘Our best defense is our defensive line’

Bates is confident the Bengals’ defense will be ready, a unit whose strength begins up front.

“Our best defense is our defensive line,” he said. “We have guys like Geno Atkins and Michael Johnson and Carlos Dunlap that can rush the quarterback. Our corners and our safeties, I feel like we’re doing a good job of communicating and getting better.

‘It helps out when we’re making plays on the ball because the quarterback knows he has to get the ball out quick’

“We’re all getting on the same page, getting in our groove, I would say. But the D-line, they’re unbelievable. At times, it helps us out when we’re making plays on the ball because the quarterback knows he has to get the ball out quick.”

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