INDIANAPOLIS — Patriots wide receiver Chad Ochocinco arrived nearly 30 minutes late for his press availability Wednesday morning, but he still offered a pretty good 23 minutes as the Pats prepared for Sunday’s Super Bowl (6:30 p.m.-Cincinnati’s Channel 5) against the Giants
Here are a few highlights with more to come:
On his 10 seasons in Cincinnati and Bengals president Mike Brown, head coach Marvin Lewis, and former offensive coordinator Bob Bratkowski:
“They gave me life. … Mike was good to me, the city was good to me, the media—we had our ups and downs—it made it fun. The fans were epic 10 straight years. Of course, I had my rifs, my raffs. I’m like any other human being. I’m not perfect. There’s nothing bad I can actually say.”
On his future:
“I want to be back (in New England) … (I can play) 10 more years. I’m Brett Favre. Without the pictures.”
On making the Super Bowl while having the worst season of his career:
“It’s a blessing to be on the stage to get to the stage. So many players play this game for such a long time. The greats. The (Dan) Marinos. Barry Sanders. I don’t think he was ever able to break the stage. Just to be able to be here is a blessing …
“Being here is like watching porn. There’s nothing bad about it at all.”
If the Patriots win, will you feel a part of it?
“I’ll feel a part of it … I learned three, four, five years ago to stop fussing about things that are out of your control. That’s what I’ve done. That’s why I was quiet this year. When my number was called, I did my best.”
Tags: Bob Bratkowski, Chad Ochocinco, Marvin Lewis, Mike Brown
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In the time it takes The Ocho to get off the line of scrimmage, the bull named Deja Blu tossed off Bengals wide receiver Chad Ochocinco in 1.5 seconds Saturday night at the Lucas Oil Invitational in Duluth, Ga. The Professional Bull Riders offered him money, a truck and renaming of the bull if he could last for eight seconds. But instead he took his toughest hit from a Bronco since Denver cornerback Champ Bailey kept him out of the end zone in the ’09 opener.
A video showed The Ocho getting tossed right out of the gate while wearing a helmet and a facemask, then he barely avoided the bull’s feet before scrambling through the fence “flashing a big smile as he looked down.”
According to the NFL Web site, The Ocho told the riders’ Web site, “Two seconds, one second, four — whatever it is. This will be something that I’ll be able to tell my kids, my kids’ kids and so on,” Ochocinco said. “Everybody can’t say that ‘I rode a bull.’ I don’t think people understand. To me, that’s awesome.”
The incomplete throw capped a worrisome day, according to The Ocho’s tweets, one of which read earlier Saturday, “I close my eyes I’m still shaking from today’s unfamiliar atmosphere of PBR. Sound of steel gates,bull,mounting,1 nod,gates open #GodBeWithMe.”
He did win over the riders and the founder of PBR, Ty Murray, who tweeted “I’m proud of Ochocinco for looking fear in the eye and having the courage to ride anyway. Been an honor. #HugeRespect.”
The Ocho is now 1-4 against Broncos.
The event appeared on The Versus channel, where wearing a New York Mets hat he said in a pre-ride interview that he realized how dangerous of a sport bull riding is.
“But if it’s my time to go, it’s my time to go,” The Ocho said before his class with Murray, a nine-time champion. “It’s something I can tell my kids.”
Before Saturday The Ocho had been unbeaten in individual matchups against beasts. On June 9, 2007 at River Downs in Cincinnati he beat Restore The Roar by 12 lengths in a horse race he donated all proceeds to Feed The Children. Reports said he would donate $10,000 from Saturday to Feed The Children.
The Associated Press reported via ProFootballTalk.com that The Ocho said “one and done” when it was over. Versus is showing the replay Sunday at 11 p.m.
Tags: bull riding, Chad Ochocinco
Posted in Hobson's Choice | 6 Comments »
A few hits in the hurry-up offense:
» Voting for the 10 finalists for the Bengals.com Hall of Fame ends 12 a.m. Thursday. We won’t deliver the results until after the April 28-30 NFL Draft. There is a lot ground to make up for the other 21 candidates trying to break into the top 10. Career scoring leader Jim Breech was holding down the 10th spot by appearing on 49.7 percent of the ballots. Tight end Bob Trumpy at 44.8 and head coach Forrest Gregg at 39.4 were 11-12.
» Published reports are saying Georgia wide receiver A.J. Green is visiting Paul Brown Stadium on Wednesday, a player that many, if not most, mock drafts ticket to the Bengals at No. 4.
So on top of quarterback Jordan Palmer’s assertion this week that the working assumption is wide receivers Chad Ochocinco and Terrell Owens are not coming back, it gets someone thinking.
The last time the Bengals took a receiver with the fourth pick was April 15, 2000 when they tabbed Florida State’s Peter Warrick and a few days later cut their all-time leading receiver, Carl Pickens. Yes, The Ocho is now their career leader, but they can’t cut him during the lockout and if they do want to move him (despite Marvin Lewis’ frequent roasts they still haven’t said) they would prefer to trade him.
Just for the heck of it, the inaugural Bengals.com Hall of Fame class had two first-rounders (Anthony Muñoz, Isaac Curtis), a second-rounder (Boomer Esiason), and a third-rounder (Ken Anderson). Of the top three vote-getters so far for this class, Tim Krumrie was a 10th-rounder, James Brooks was a first-rounder and wide receiver Cris Collinsworth was a second-rounder, although Brooks was obtained in a trade.
By the way, when his time comes The Ocho is a first-ballot Bengals.com Hall of Famer. Maybe Pickens would have put up his numbers if he had Carson Palmer and The Ocho would have had Pickens’ numbers if he had Esiason at the end and Klingler and Akili at the beginning. But this isn’t the Sci-Fi Channel. That’s not what happened.
» Sports Illustrated‘s Peter King tweeted Wednesday he sees at least six quarterbacks in the first 49 picks and maybe seven. Let’s see. That’s Newton, Gabbert, Mallett, Locker, Ponder, Dalton and Kaepernick has to be the seventh. Everyone seems to think he’s No. 7 and that Newton is No. 1 and Gabbert is No. 2. After that, it seems to be the eye of the beholder.
Published reports have Bengals offensive coordinator Jay Gruden all over Dalton but some teams wonder about his arm strength. The Bengals have said they like Mallett’s rocket arm, but how they’ve computed it into a grade against his lack of mobility and off-field issues is anyone’s guess. As in, would they take any of the seven if they’re there at No. 35? Or would it have to be a select few or one? Given they’re taking Carson Palmer’s trade-me-or-mothball-me demand seriously, would they even take Kaepernick at No. 35? Even though he’s very raw and is coming out of something called the Pistol Offense and maybe couldn’t help you for two years?
Tags: Bengals.com Hall of Fame vote, Carson Palmer, Chad Ochocinco, Jordan Palmer, Peter King, Terrell Owens
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The Ocho says he may even stick around after the Bengals tell him he’s gone.
“Cincinnati is all I know. The fans are all I know,” he told NFL Network Tuesday at a Super Bowl media day appearance. “I’m a Cincinnati Bengal until Mike Brown or someone else tell me my services are no longer needed. And if someone does, I still might not leave.”
The Ocho, the anchor of OCNN, said he thought the firing of offensive coordinator Bob Bratkowski was a first step in accommodating Carson Palmer: “They’ll do whatever it takes to keep him.” But he said he didn’t know why Palmer was fired.
“We had some of our best years ever with him at the helm,” The Ocho said.
He seems mystified by Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis’ public shots, saying it started late in the season when he was playing on a bum ankle.
“He’s a father figure to me,” The Ocho said. “You don’t reprimand your son if he’s not out of line … but I’ll always love Marvin Lewis.”
Tags: Chad Ochocinco, Ocho from Super Bowl
Posted in Hobson's Choice | 12 Comments »
Even as Marvin Lewis expresses optimism about coming back to coach next season, Sunday’s game against the Chargers still has an end-of-era feel to it at Paul Brown Stadium.
It is the era that started with the win over the undefeated Chiefs on Nov. 16, 2003 and spanned two division titles, two home playoff games, four Monday night games, two deaths, and a marriage proposal. Euphoria. Heartbreak. Celebrity. Injury. Headlines. Prayers. You name it, whatever you want to call it (The Marvin Era, The Carson Decade, The Age of Chad) it has had a little bit of everything for the Reality TV generation.
The conventional wisdom is that Lewis wants some changes if he’s going to return and Palmer is so beat up and frustrated one day shy of his 31st birthday that there have to be changes. It can be assumed that Bengals president Mike Brown isn’t happy, either. That’s where the guessing game starts.
In the end, he’s the guy that loaded up for this season. He signed two big-money receivers. He made defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer the highest-paid assistant coach in club history. He re-signed all the veterans on both sides of the ball, took Zimmer’s recommendation to sign cornerback Adam Jones (Zimmer took responsibility for what turned out to be a solid move), and Palmer’s recommendation for Terrell Owens. The fact that all he got out of it was a top three draft pick can’t sit well with Brown.
Even if Lewis comes back, there’s a sense this chapter is closed. Lewis and Palmer can mold young guns like Carlos Dunlap, Michael Johnson, Geno Atkins, Rey Maualuga, Jermain Gresham, Andre Caldwell, Jordan Shipley, Bernard Scott and Jerome Simpson as the roster balance shifts to a new generation. Has a Bengals era ever ended with such young talent? The offseason question has to be how to grow it.
Heightening the end-of-era feel is the CW and guesswork that wide receiver Chad Ochocinco won’t be back for an 11th season at age 33, making Sunday the end of The Age of Chad. If this it, what a run.
Never mind he did things no Bengals receiver has ever done, such as catch 10,000 yards (10,783) and 750 balls (751), and go to six Pro Bowls. But he also did things no NFL receiver did, such as leading his conference in receiving yards four straight seasons from 2003 to 2006, while becoming a mainstream celebrity in popular culture.
The debate is always going to be if that celebrity got in the way of his game. He’s a borderline Hall of Famer, but did his emotion and passion cross the line too many times? There are arguments either way.
His performance in big games is mixed. His numbers in the eight Decembers under Lewis are 14 touchdowns in 32 games with 149 catches for 2,050 yards. That’s 13.8 yards per catch for an average of 4.7 catches and 64 yards per game. That is less than his career averages of 14.4 yards per catch with an average of five catches for 71 yards per game.
Maybe not that big of a difference, but in an era in which the Bengals were oh-so-close, a difference just the same. In his two playoff games, he caught just six balls for 87 yards and no touchdowns. The talk shows and national pundits raged the Bengals would be better without him.
But he did come up big in some big moments. In the two home games the Bengals had to absolutely win to win the division - Cleveland in 2005 and Kansas City in 2009 - The Ocho bailed them put in the last seconds. Tied 20-20 with the Browns, he drew two pass-interference penalties to set up a last-snap field goal. Last year with the Bengals tied with the Chiefs at 10-10, he made a falling-back touchdown catch of Palmer’s six-yard bullet on third down with 2:03 left to win it. And in that December run he caught a TD in four straight games.
There were about three or four years there when no one could cover him. Ask a rookie Adam Jones about the game Ochocinco stole in the fourth quarter from the Titans in Tennessee in a huge over-the-hump win in ’05.
As usual with The Ocho, it’s never cut-and-dried. There are always a couple of layers to it, which makes him so damn fun.
If this is it, that may be the way to remember him. Don’t give yourself a headache trying to win a debate. He has been the leading receiver and one of the top NFL players on some of the best Bengals teams, and he made you smile at some point along the way.
It may not be a Super Bowl or Hall of Fame legacy. But it’s a hell of a legacy just the same.
Tags: Chad Ochocinco, end of erra ochocinco
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» Biggest thing to come out of Sunday’s win besides the pass rush was the eyebrows that were raised by the blocking of the young wide receivers in the run game. Running back Cedric Benson has been a sitting duck for unblocked safeties all year. It looks different when they get blocked, huh?
Head coach Marvin Lewis has been fuming about it for years. And that’s one thing that Laveranues Coles willingly did last year and what Antonio Bryant was ready to do this year. Terrell Owens was brilliant at times (Jordan Shipley’s 64-yard run-and-catch in Atlanta), but wouldn’t always bring it. Same with The Ocho. Sometimes. Not always. But Andre Caldwell and Jerome Simpson were willing participants every snap.
And you could tell.
» Per Joe Reedy of The Cincinnati Enquirer, Chad Ochocinco is going to have some candid comments about his situation next year Tuesday night at 10:30 on the T.Ocho Show on Versus. Let me guess.
The Ocho has indicated recently he doesn’t think the Bengals will pick up his $6 million option in 2011 and when asked Monday if he thought this Sunday would be his last game as a Bengal at Paul Brown, he said to check the stories from 2008. That’s back when he wanted out via a trade.
He’s probably right about the option. Heck, he’s putting out a poll on Twitter asking fans if they would pick up the option if they were a GM.
But say this about the man: He’s never backed down from playing hurt and it’s going to be a long time before anyone else breaks his team records. He should get several standing ovations Sunday to say thank you if this is what it looks like and this is it.
Think of it this way: With 10,783 yards, he has 3,682 more yards than the incomparable Isaac Curtis, the most gifted receiver in Bengals history and the man whose record he broke.
That’s more than Dan Ross, the best Bengals tight end ever, caught in his career.
It’ s also more yards than wide receivers like Chip Myers (3,079) and Peter Warrick (2,811) had in their entire Bengals careers, as well as their top receiving back of all time, James Brooks, with 3,012.
It’s quite a run.
» Was anybody else wondering where that run on third-and-three with 1:55 left Sunday was against Tampa Bay on third-and-13 with 2:28 left back on Oct. 10?
» This is why special teams coach Darrin Simmons loves Quan Cosby: Smart. Reliable. Always on the ball, literally.
With 2:13 left Sunday, who in Bengaldom didn’t think the Browns would recover the onside kick and win it on Phil Dawson’s kick at the gun? Not Cosby, in the middle up front on the hands team.
“We saw them do it on film,” Cosby said. “If it was an onside kick, he put it on the ground in front of the tee. If he teed it up, it was either deep kick or a middle bunt and the middle bunt was going to come right at me.”
But the film they saw was of a surprise onside, not one that was expected late in the game. Yet Simmons had them schooled Cosby digested it. Lewis has been telling his team all year and did it last week, too: Smartest team wins. Cosby is that quintessential lunch-bucket reliable guy.
» It was emotional watching and listening to Benson get emotional like that after the game. How nice is it to see someone care that much about what he does and how much it means to succeed?
Reedy has a nice stat comparing Benson’s first 39 games to the first 39 of Corey Dillon and Rudi Johnson, where his 3,004 yards and dozen 100-yard games trumped them. It did take Dillon half a season to get into the starting lineup his rookie year and Johnson played 22 games before he became the regular starter, but the point is made. Benson has been the heart of the team. As he goes, so they go.
Because these are my favorite Benson stats: In his 100-yard games, the Bengals are 10-2. In the games he carries it 20 or more times; they are 13-5-1. In games he started and he carried it less than 20, they are 3-15.
And that plus-20 stat really should be 15-3-1 because it includes the two losses this season the Bengals flat out gave away, Tampa Bay and Buffalo.
I agree with Reedy. The Bengals should try and re-sign Benson, but it will be a tough sell if there’s not at least some move back to the run-first philosophy of ’09.
» Watching the kids play up front on defense, Chris Pressley play fullback, and the young receivers run around, it makes you wonder how far this team is away.
This isn’t your 2002 roster.
There’s too much here to do a complete facelift on the field.
If it’s me, I re-sign cornerback Johnathan Joseph, draft a wide receiver that can fly in the first round, find out if Anthony Collins can play right tackle and think seriously about moving Andre Smith to right guard, and shore up safety. Whatever, the offensive line has to be a priority. If you decide Smith is too brittle, some bold things have to be done, but with those moves you’ve got a shot to get right back in it.
Would that be enough to salvage Carson Palmer? It would seem that he needs to be sold on what’s happening next. But Palmer is the guy that makes this all work if you’re looking for a quick turnaround, and they are. Say what you want. Palmer makes them dangerous. He is 22-14 in the NFL’s toughest division. He’s tough, smart, business-like, and disdains politics.
Give him a couple of kid receivers with Gresham and Shipley and let’s go.
Tags: bengals musings, Cedric Benson, Chad Ochocinco
Posted in Hobson's Choice | 22 Comments »
During Wednesday’s locker-room session, Terrell Owens said that Chad Ochocinco is the best wide receiver that has been opposite him since the incomparable Jerry Rice.
“It’s been awhile since I’ve had somebody of that caliber,” Owens said. “I played with Jerry Rice. He was at the top of the charts as far as being explosive and making a play anywhere on the field. It’s been awhile and that’s not a knock on (any) of the guys I’ve played with. You put our resumes side-by-side, there’s nobody out there that can really compare until you put Jerry Rice.”
Owens has it right because he’s going by the numbers. At some point during the Sept. 12 opener in historic New England, the Dynamic Duo should make some history themselves.
One if by T.O.
Two if by Chad.
Owens is 49 receiving yards away from becoming the third player in NFL history with 15,000, joining only Rice (22,895) and Isaac Bruce (15,208).
Ochocinco is 48 yards away from becoming the 33rd player with 10,000 yards and moving ahead of Eric Moulds on the all-time list.
When they both reach the milestone, the Bengals become just the second team in NFL history to line up a 15,000-yard receiver and 10,000 yard receiver at the same time. Rice teamed with Tim Brown in Oakland from 2001-2003.
Owens saw Rice pass the 15,000-yard mark his rookie year of 1996 when he was teamed with Rice and J.J. Stokes in San Francisco.
Tags: Chad Ochocinco, Ocho, owens on all-time list, T.O., Terrell Owens
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GEORGETOWN, Ky. – We know that wide receiver Terrell Owens will be at an 11:45 a.m. Thursday news conference here at Georgetown College after taking the redeye from The Coast, but where will he be when he takes the field for the first time as a Bengal at the 7 p.m. practice?
In the slot or outside?
The Bengals are still piecing that together, but receivers coach Mike Sheppard says to look for him early on at the outside.
“Hard to say,” said Sheppard, when asked if Owens is a slot guy. “He didn’t play a lot of inside but he had a lot of patterns that worked inside. I think that’s what we’re going to find out about … we can move at his pace. We go fast in training camp but we don’t have to play him every down. We’ve got good players there . Hopefully we can get him up to speed as fast as he can learn it. Hopefully, we get him going outside and then we’ll see what he can do outside maybe.”
With Owens heading into his 15th NFL season and Sheppard coaching his 17th NFL season, the learning curve doesn’t figure to be steep. Sheppard figures it will be a review for Owens. Also figuring into this could be the health of Antonio Bryant. When the Bengals backed him off in late June when his knee flared up, they moved him back outside.
But not before they were very impressed how he handled playing the slot, a spot he had hardly ever played during his previous seven NFL seasons.
“He was adjusting and he was anxious to do it,” Sheppard said. “He knows in our structure a lot of catches come in there. His being familiar with the inside is going to help us.”
All indications are that Bryant is going to be on the field Thursday and the Bengals think he’ll be OK as long as they back him off. Sheppard has liked what he’s seen so far about his makeup.
“He’s got great toughness, excellent hands, very strong hands,” Sheppard said. “Press doesn’t bother him. He can fight through things and he’s competitive as heck.” …
Interesting that two former Bengals quarterbacks have offered their old club encouraging words about Owens. Ryan Fitzpatrick, Palmer’s backup in ’07-08, threw to him last year in Buffalo and immediately called Carson Palmer after the season to urge the Bengals sign him. And Turk Schonert, who would have been Owens’ offensive coordinator in Buffalo before he got sacked in preseason, loved him, according to Sheppard.
“I’ve worked with Turk and I trust what he sees,” Sheppard said. “He was high on him. Hard worker. Productive guy.” …
The most interesting thing The Ocho said Wednesday – besides saying that Owens is the new No. 1 receiver – is how different they are as players. Owens is such a physical guy that The Ocho says he’d be injured by the third game if he played like that. But he plans on taking notes on what Owens does after the catch. The Ocho is coming off his best season getting yards after the play, but he admitted it’s been a weakness.
“He’s one of the best in the game ever,” The Ocho said of YAC, and he thinks seeing it up close instead of merely on film will help.
Tags: Antonio Bryant, Chad Ochocinco, finding t.o., Terrell Owens
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