GEORGETOWN — With or without Terrell Owens, the Cincinnati Bengals were ready to open camp Thursday morning at Georgetown College.
So they did — minus Owens, who wasn't able to catch a flight to Northern Kentucky until the afternoon.
For the players and coaches on hand, it was a day to focus on the team's catch-phrase for the season: Work To Do.
"There's a lot of challenges," quarterback Carson Palmer said. "But the biggest one is coming in and perform, aside from meeting all the guys and figuring everything else out. You're on the field to perform, so in order to perform you've got to know what you're doing. Know where to line up. Know when you're running a 'hot' route. Understand the different cadences that we have."
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Coach Marvin Lewis liked what he saw from the AFC North champions, who worked out in shorts and helmets.
"As a football team, we reported in outstanding shape," he said. "I thought we had good work today on the field. A good start, good kickoff to things."
Lewis said five players are on an "active PUP" (physically unable to perform) list:
■ Leon Hall (CB), due to "slight tightness in his back" that could limit his participation for a few days;
■ Rashad Jeanty (LB), who is recovering from off-season leg surgery;
■ Evan Mathis (OG), day-to-day as he recovers from a calf strain suffered in June;
■ Tom Nelson (S), who had recent surgery to clean out his knee and could be out two to four weeks;
■ Andre Smith (OT), foot rehab, who could be ready in two to three weeks.
No need for alarm, though. Lewis described the active PUP moves as precautionary, to keep small problems from becoming major concerns.
The Bengals also worked out Thursday night. After a Friday afternoon practice, the players will put on pads for the first time Saturday. They begin exhibition play the following weekend, Aug. 8 (Sunday) against Dallas in the Hall of Fame Game at Canton, Ohio.
Domata Peko, a tackle on what was the NFL's fourth-best defense last season, felt good about the initial practice.
"Everyone's first day is a little jitters and some rust," Peko said. "But overall I think the chemistry's there. Everyone trusts each other, and that's a big thing on defense. Everyone has to know where each other's at and know that your partner's going to be in his gap and I'm going to be in my gap."
Cornerback Adam "Pacman" Jones, trying to restart his career after sitting out last season, had mixed results.
"(I) stayed on the ground too much today, but it's the first day," he said. "So just out there feeling everything out, I'm just happy to be out there.
"It's my first day pressing (in coverage) in two years. ... We're just working hard every day as a group and getting better."
Eyes on the prize
Chad Ochocinco reiterated Thursday that he thinks the Bengals are armed to win a Super Bowl.
"To have (Owens) and myself, along with everybody else, it's like a video-game system for Carson," he said.
"If we don't win the big dance this year, it can't be done. Period. Because we are stacked across the board like no other. I don't think there's ever been a Bengal team, offensively or defensively, that's been this talented on paper. Now it's up to us to put it together."
Lewis would be happy to know Ochocinco put in his last qualifying statement.
At his mid-day press conference, Lewis said Owens is "a guy who has got some skins on the wall, an accomplished player and is looking goal-wise to match up with the same things we are. He's done everything else. ... But simply us just talking about it, as my favorite wide receiver (Ochocinco) seems to want to do, that doesn't get you there. You've got to do the work and you've got to make the plays."
Cedric the Entertainer
Cedric Benson, who ran for 1,251 yards and six touchdowns last season, expects the Bengals to remain a "run-first" type of offense despite an influx of receivers.
"Without a doubt, I think we're still going to be a run-first," Benson said. "That's what made us successful last year. I think it'd be foolish of us not to stay focused on that."
"And Marvin will continue to drill that in everybody's head, that this is a run-first team," Ochocinco said. "That's what we were last year. That's what we'll continue to be regardless of the weapons that we've added to the offense. I think 'Ced' has a chance to get 2,000 yards, easy."