Football

Bengal eagerly await the T.O. show

A list posted on the door of a dorm room showed that Terrell Owens will be rooming with Jerome Simpson, Andre Caldwell, and Maurice Purify.
A list posted on the door of a dorm room showed that Terrell Owens will be rooming with Jerome Simpson, Andre Caldwell, and Maurice Purify. AP

The Cincinnati Bengals unpacked their vehicles Wednesday and moved in to dorm rooms at Georgetown College, where training camp practices begin Thursday.

There were TVs, laptops, snacks and suitcases.

And there was this: Hope. Higher hope than usual at this always-optimistic time of year.

The Bengals, who went undefeated in the AFC North last season, have had cause all summer to have had great expectations. With word Tuesday that the team had agreed to terms with Terrell Owens, though, the positive vibes skyrocketed.

Owens, a six-time Pro Bowl selection, didn't check in Wednesday. However, he is due in Thursday. He is not expected to be ready for Thursday's 9 a.m. workout, but will be available for a mid-day press conference and on the field for a 7 p.m. workout.

Owens' new teammates practically gushed over his impending arrival.

"To add another guy that's talented, to help us be good, I think this whole team's excited," offensive tackle Andrew Whitworth said.

Quarterback Carson Palmer worked out with Owens, 36, for the last two or three weeks and put in a good word with Coach Marvin Lewis.

"Marvin said, 'How'd he look?' " Palmer said. "I said, 'He looks good.' I don't care how old he is or how old any guy is. If you can still run and still explode off the ball and still do the things that you've been doing to make you successful, age doesn't matter."

Of course, the Bengals already have a receiver matching many of those descriptions in Chad Ochocinco, who has already dubbed the 1-2 receiving punch Batman and Robin. And "Ocho" concedes the Batman role to Owens.

"You're talking about a Hall of Famer. Period. Hands down," Ochocinco said. "Look at the numbers. The numbers speak for themselves. So when he comes here, he's the No. 1 receiver, out of respect for him and what he's done."

Ochocinco called the addition "awesome."

"I'm still trying to picture what people are going to do when we play. For the life of me, I don't know what you're going to do. You've got myself. You've got T.O. Antonio Bryant. Andre Caldwell. Jerome Simpson. Then you've got (third-round draft pick Jordan) Shipley. Then you've got (first-round draft pick Jermaine) Gresham. Then you've got 'Ced' (Cedric Benson).

"It's like a little Dream Team. With what we have, on paper, if we don't win a Super Bowl it's a (expletive) shame."

Is this football's version of what the Miami Heat have done in basketball, bringing LeBron James and Chris Bosh in to join Dwyane Wade and form a Terrific Trio?

"Yeah, but our Big Three is better," Ochocinco said. "I talked to LeBron yesterday. I tweeted D-Wade. I think our Big Three can beat their Big Three any day."

The Bengals are coming off a 10-6 regular season in which they ranked 22nd in scoring (19.1 points), ninth in rushing offense (128.5 yards per game) and 26th in passing (180.6 ypg).

Defensively, the Bengals were sixth-best in points allowed (18.2), seventh against the run (98.3 ypg) and sixth against the pass (203.1).

"I think we're better than we were last year all across the board really," Palmer said. "We didn't lose too many guys; we re-signed guys. Guys on defense are back. Offensive line's intact — and that was a big question mark last year, and then they went out and proved that we're one of the best running football teams in the league.

"I think that we've added, hopefully, all the pieces that we need to make a run at the Super Bowl. It's up to us."

Bobbie Williams, an 11-year veteran who anchors the offensive line at guard, thinks the Bengals may have all the pieces in place, too.

Adding Owens, he said, "just shows that we are building this team to go all the way this year, and that's all that you can ask the organization to do. They are going out there, getting the players that are in demand, in request. So bring T.O. on. I'm excited."

 Wide receiver Andre Caldwell on potential T.O. distractions: "If Chad can't disrupt this team, I don't think T.O. can."

 Williams, on how Owens will affect the locker room: "In a positive way. I don't think he's coming here with no nonsense. No idiocy — how about that one?"

 Rookie hopefuls include fullback Joe Tronzo, a free agent out of Louisville.

"There's a lot of mixed emotions," he said of reporting to his first NFL camp. "It's nerve-wracking, anxious, nervous, just excited to be here; to realize that you have the opportunity that ... a lot of people dreamed of but never got, and now you're in position to do it."

What must Tronzo, a state high school shot put champion for St. Xavier, do in order to stick on the roster?

"Just running it and putting my nose on people," he said. "Showing the coaches that I'm not afraid to hit, that I love being a physical player. That's kind of been one of my trademarks throughout my career."

 The Bengals have a pair of "intern coaches" in camp: Lexington's Dermontti Dawson and his former teammate on the Pittsburgh Steelers, Hall of Fame defensive back Rod Woodson.

 A pair of draft picks signed Wednesday: Carlos Dunlap, a second-round defensive end out of Florida; and Jordan Shipley, a third-round receiver out of Texas. Eight of the team's nine picks have signed, the exception being Gresham.

  Comments