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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