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Business beckons Bengals

Posted Dec 18, 2009

Updated: 3:40 p.m.

The rhythm of an NFL locker room slowly began to get back to as close as business as it could Friday, one day after the death of Bengals wide receiver Chris Henry. Thursday the room was still soundproof. But Friday wide receiver Chad Ochocino put his iPod in the sound system and out came the candlelight music of Sade before going out to practice.

“Old school,” The Ocho said.

“Help calm everybody. It eases your mind,” said cornerback Johnathan Joseph.

Business as usual.

Head coach Marvin Lewis changed the practice time from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. because of the team’s Friday 6 p.m. departure for San Diego and the NFL made a call Thursday to Ochocinco telling him what he can’t do. No player can change his jersey once the regular season starts, so he can’t wear the No. 15 of the man they called “Slim” this Sunday. He was back to wearing 85 Friday.

Business as usual.

Wide receiver Jerome Simpson talked football, hoping he’ll be active for the first time this season. He knows the coaches are looking at him to fill the vertical void with Henry’s absence.

“I think I’ve had a good week,” he said. “I’ve been on point. I’m just trying to take care of the little things. I was inspired before, but now I am more so. (Henry) was my homey. I want to play as well as I can for him.”

Business as usual.

The wide receiver that had to sit to give Simpson a chance, Maurice Purify, re-signed with the practice squad Friday.

Almost business as usual.

In Henry’s locker there were some flowers along with a drawing that had been left at the front desk of the Bengals offices. The drawing was inscribed “So Long Slim,” and “R.I.P in the Eternal End Zone.” It had the No. 15 next to a stadium filled with people and Henry’s face in the sky.

“I’ve got a feeling this team is going to respond with an effort that’s phenomenal,” said right guard Bobbie Williams. “An effort that is unparalleled to our performances of the past. A lot of emotion in this game. A lot of emotion.”

Williams applauded Lewis’ move to not cancel the team’s Christmas party Thursday night, choosing, instead, to use it as a vehicle to bring the team together in a crisis.

“We need to be with each other now, not away from each other,” said left tackle Andrew Whitworth.

“You know what’s kind of funny is that’s this is how they celebrate death in New Orleans,” Williams said. “They grieve, and then there’s a parade. It’s weird that it happened like that. Chris is from New Orleans and we didn’t have a parade, but we came together and talked about that he’s in a better place and we got over the emotion a little bit and talked about the good things about him as we mingled among ourselves and our families.”

Lewis is thinks the road trip comes at a good time.

“Because people around here are continually talking about something that really doesn’t have an affect on us right now,” Lewis said after Friday’s practice. “Chris had been injured and had been away from us (on injured reserve since Nov. 9). It’s a very tragic thing, but the football team is moving on.”

And there is also the matter of being too ready to play. Lewis thought that was the case last Sunday in Minnesota when the Bengals’ bid for an upset got dashed with early penalties.

“Just enjoy (the opportunity) and go, but that’s not been our nature in the past,” Lewis said. “The team was excited last week. Maybe too excited.”

Also Friday, Fifth Third Bank began a memorial fund for Henry's four children at branches in Cincinnati, Dayton, Ohio, and Northern Kentucky.

 

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