Sports

'Housh' outplaying Ocho

Chad Ocho Cinco knows that when it's time to rank the Cincinnati Bengals' receivers this season, he's not at the top of the list.

And, it's not even close.

Even though the Bengals' offense is languishing at the bottom of the NFL in yards gained, T.J. Houshmandzadeh is at the top of the league in catches and third-down receptions. He's been a one-man passing game at times — quite a feat, given what's going on around him.

"We've had one shining light in Housh," Ocho Cinco said. "Housh has been able to produce week-in and week-out, regardless of who the quarterback is. All of us have to get onto the page where he is."

For the second season in a row, Houshmandzadeh is an entire chapter ahead when it comes to making the clutch catch. He reached his first Pro Bowl last season, when he tied New England's Wes Welker for the league lead with 112 catches, a Bengals record.

The seventh-round draft pick is at it again. Heading into a game at Pittsburgh on Thursday night, Houshmandzadeh leads the league with 73 catches — one more than Welker — and has four touchdowns in an offense that has found those hard to come by.

When the Bengals need a catch, he's the one they throw to most often. Houshmandzadeh leads the league with 24 catches on third down. He has nearly half of the Bengals' third-down conversions — Cincinnati ranks 28th out of the 32 teams with only 52 third-down conversions this season.

Whether the quarterback has been Carson Palmer or Ryan Fitzpatrick, opponents knew where the Bengals were throwing on third down, and it didn't matter. Houshmandzadeh had 12 catches Sunday in a 13-13 tie with the Eagles, who knew what to expect.

"I mean, he's a great player," said Fitzpatrick, who will start his sixth straight game in place of the injured Palmer. "And I think the biggest thing with him is reliability, that whenever you go to him — whether there's two or three guys on him, whatever it takes — he's going to get open and catch the ball."

Bucs' Graham out for year

Buccaneers leading rusher Earnest Graham will miss the rest of the season after injuring his right ankle during last week's victory over the Vikings.

Graham limped off the field after his only carry against the Vikings. The Bucs said he hurt his ankle but did not release specifics about the injury.

Fourth-year pro Noah Herron was signed to fill Graham's spot on the roster.

'Pacman' reinstated

The NFL is giving Adam "Pacman" Jones another chance. Cowboys Owner Jerry Jones said Wednesday the suspended cornerback has been reinstated by league commissioner Roger Goodell, but he must miss two more games — this Sunday and the following game on Thanksgiving. He'll be back Dec. 7 at Pittsburgh.

Around the league

Cardinals: Arizona declined to consider releasing Edgerrin James when the running back's agent inquired about the possibility, the team's general manager said Wednesday.

James was benched three weeks ago in favor of rookie Tim Hightower and didn't play a down in Arizona's 34-13 victory at St. Louis.

Vikings: Defensive end Jared Allen will not be suspended for a spate of late hits. Coach Brad Childress said he was told by the NFL that Allen will be fined $25,000 but not punished further. Allen was fined $50,000 for two late hits earlier this month on Houston quarterback Matt Schaub, one that injured his knee.

Chargers: Oft-injured wide receiver Craig Davis, a disappointment in his two seasons, will miss the rest of the season with a groin injury.

Saints: Tailback Aaron Stecker was put on injured reserve and will miss the remainder of the season. Stecker has a hamstring problem and became the 13th player on the Saints' list.

Bengals: Receiver Antonio Chatman was placed on injured reserve, three days after he suffered a neck injury during a 13-13 tie with the Eagles.

Colts: Tight end Tom Santi (shoulder) and cornerback Nick Graham (ankle) were placed on injured reserve.

Bills: Starting safety Donte Whitner, his backup Bryan Scott, and starting cornerback Jabari Greer missed practice Wednesday, leaving their status uncertain for the Bills' game at Kansas City on Sunday.

Redskins: Running back Clinton Portis, who surprised himself by playing last week on a sprained knee, sat out practice Wednesday but expects to be ready for Sunday's game against Seattle.

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