Dinner and a move?

Posted Mar 9, 2010

Terrell Owens

Updated: 10:40 p.m.

Terrell Owens Twittered excitedly about Tuesday night's trip to Cincinnati. His last quarterback, the Bills' Ryan Fitzpatrick, sounds just as intrigued about Owens joining his former team. 

"It's hard not to like T.O. He was fun to play with and no one worked harder," Fitzpatrick said Tuesday. "And let me tell you something. He can still flat out run by people."

Owens is very much in the mix. So is Bucs wide receiver Antonio Bryant. Bryant took a physical and visited with coaches and staff Tuesday morning and much of Tuesday afternoon before departing for what agent Lamont Smith has told media are other visits but not Washington. As some Bengals coaches prepared to take Owens out to dinner Tuesday night before Wednesday's stadium visit, the Bengals continued to mull their options for Chad Ochocinco's 2010 running mate.

The Cincinnati Enquirer spoke to Owens upon his arrival Tuesday night and he invoked the names of his two biggest supporters in this venture, The Ocho and quarterback Carson Palmer.

“Chad and I both can alleviate a lot of pressure off each other and we can make Carson’s job a lot easier," he said. "I think the excitement speaks for itself. You think about it and what we both can do on the football field together, obviously defenses are going to have to go his way or my way.”

Owens told the newspaper, “I think Carson is one of those underrated quarterbacks. His body of work speaks for itself. Obviously I also relish the moment I can play with a quarterback with the capability and skill set of Carson’s. If this is it I’m looking forward to the opportunity.”

Bryant, who is 29, overcame a checkered past to have a career year in 2008 and is most likely looking for a lucrative long-term deal. Owens is 36 and late in a controversial but Hall of Fame career that doesn't fit the Bengals age-wise but fits their specifications as a one-year panacea for a former Pro Bowl quarterback and a defending division champion looking to get over the hump in the playoffs.

Take your pick.

There probably isn't a wrong choice, which is why the Bengals are mulling and will into Wednesday.

Fitzpatrick, who backed up Palmer in Cincinnati in 2007 and 2008, knows all those involved and likes the fit. Owens is supposed to eat his quarterbacks for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Not Fitzpatrick.

"The Bengals and Terrell make a lot of sense," said Fitzpatrick, who started 12 games for the Bengals in '08. "Carson is at his best when he's throwing the long ball and they've had trouble lately getting Chad freed up because he's always double covered. They don't have a deep threat on the other side and Terrell can bring that because he can still run and make big plays. Just knowing Carson, I think they would work well together. I saw Carson's quotes that he's pretty much handled it all and seen it all when it comes to wide receivers and I think he's right. Terrell wants to win. A great competitor and I think he and Chad would feed off each other. The guy was a good teammate."

The numbers say the Bengals need Owens. Owens finished with 55 catches last season, his lowest total for a 16-game season since he was a rookie with the 49ers in 1996. But the Bengals would love his 15.1-yard average. The Ocho has hit 15.1 or better four times in his career, the last time in 2007. But only twiice in his career has anyone else had 15.1 or better and it was the late Chris Henry in 2006 (16.8), 2007 (16.3) and 2009 (19.7).

And Owens did make five catches of at least 40 yards last year while Palmer had just five throws of 40 or more.

Owens proclaimed at a Super Bowl party last month that he'll change his name to Ocho Uno (81) if he comes to Cincinnati to team with The Ocho. Fitzpatrick says they are different guys.

"Both of them get a huge amount of media attention, so they're used to that," Fitzpatrick said. "Chad's more the jokester, the prankster in the locker room. Terrell is certainly not that way. I know there have been some scenes on the sidelines and stuff, but the guy just wants to win."

Palmer has apparently finally been able to get in touch with Owens to talk Bengals. Fitzpatrick has been texting Owens, letting him know that Palmer's long ball is looking for another partner. And to let Palmer know that Owens has still got it.

"I know we had a tough year and it discourages me when I hear people say he's lost a step," Fitzpatrick said. "Put on the game tape. He just blows guys up off the line with his explosiveness."


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