Roomies joust like cats, cards

GEORGETOWN — Surely it had to be a mistake. Putting a Kentucky and Louisville player in the same dorm room? It had to be a mix-up.

Those were Glenn Holt and Mario Urrutia's thoughts when the two former college rivals, and now Cincinnati Bengals teammates, saw they were assigned to the same dorm room for the Bengals' annual training camp at Georgetown College.

“I was like, ‘Glenn, oh gosh.' We're going to go at it every day.” Urrutia said.

As fate would have it, it wasn't a mistake, and the two will be bunking together for the Bengals' three-week training camp.

As much as they like to joke around about their curious living situation, it isn't all that bad. In fact, the two have been friends off the field even during their UK-U of L days, and Holt thought he nearly lured Urrutia into committing to the Wildcats.

“Mario's my boy,” Holt said. “When he came to UK, I was his host. When he took that visit he came to my house and I thought we had him.”

Urrutia never signed with the Wildcats, a decision Holt has already, and quite frequently, let the former U of L star hear about during the opening days of training camp.

Before Urrutia could even field a handful of questions from reporters after Monday's morning session, Holt walked past the rookie chanting, “C-A-T-S, Cats, Cats, Cats.”

Caught off guard, Urrutia could do nothing but laugh. After all, it was Urrutia who began the razzing.

“He came in the house with a red hat on, red shirt, red jersey shorts and a white T-shirt,” Holt said. “I was like ‘You can't wear that in here, man.' I had to tell him to take that off.”

Urrutia took off the red and white for orange and black stripes, but as a seventh-round draft pick, he's not even a sure thing to make it out of camp as a Bengal. Both Urrutia and Holt are right in the middle of a crowded position battle for the fifth and six roster spots at wide receiver.

Considering Chad Johnson and T.J. Houshmandzadeh are locks as the starters, and the fact that rookies Jerome Simpson and Andre Caldwell have already impressed the Bengals' coaching staff in mini-camp, there's a chance Urrutia and Holt could knock each other off the final 45-man roster.

Holt comes in with the upper hand in terms of experience and proved to be more than capable of filling the No. 3 spot. The third-year player hauled in 16 catches last season while serving as the team's primary kick returner.

Coaches also love Holt's heart and attitude, something that came into question during Urrutia's injury-plagued and often maligned junior season at U of L.

Does that alone leave Urrutia on the outside looking in?

Not necessarily. The Bengals like his 6-foot-5 frame, and even if he didn't make the final roster, it probably wouldn't hurt him to spend a year on the practice squad to regain the form he had his sophomore season, when he caught 58 balls with a 16.8 reception average.

The Bengals' coaching staff loves Urrutia's upside, but Coach Marvin Lewis said he's got plenty to improve upon.

“He's got a lot ahead of him and he's got to make sure that he can learn to play with his pads down and the speed to compete at this level,”

Having been through it before, Holt said he hopes to help Urrutia get through the ups-and-downs of a rookie season, even if they're battling for the same roster spot.

“We're still friends,” Holt said. “We know how the game is. We're just out here competing. I help him, whatever he needs, I'll help. But we know we're competing to make the roster.”

And as for that little rivalry they used to play in every fall. The two say a wager is already in the works.