There is a difference of opinion in the Bengals locker room when it comes to the NFL not fining Steelers wide receiver Hines Ward for the block that ended linebacker Keith Rivers' season with a broken jaw.
T.J. Houshmandzadeh is looking at it as a fellow wide receiver. Safety Chinedum Ndukwe is looking at it as a defensive player. Brandon Johnson is looking at it as a fellow linebacker.
"Not surprised at all," said Johnson, who would only refer back to his Sunday comments that the league treats offense and defense differently.
But Ndukwe said he thought Ward would get fined and stood by his words that got him roasted from as far away as national talk maven Jim Rome's Jungle.
"Even if he did get fined, it's not going to put Keith's jaw back together," Ndukwe said. "That's what he does. He's looking to get that big hit. The guy had no chance of making the tackle and he didn't see him coming until the last second. I think it was helmet to helmet."
Houshmandzadeh has hinted that he wouldn't have passed up the same opportunity to make a block.
"I don't think he should get fined. I didn't think it was a cheap hit," Houshmandzadeh said. "It wasn't like, 'I'm about to hit him and see if he gets hurt.' It's a hit where he peels back and takes a shot on somebody pursuing the ball. As a receiver, you like those blocks. I wish Keith hadn't got hurt."
In the early part of practice Thursday, wide receiver T.J. Houshmandzadeh (ankle) was dressed, but two other wideouts with dinged ankles—Antonio Chatman and Jerome Simpson—weren't. Defensive end Frostee Rucker also wasn't working after being limited Wednesday with a shoulder problem. Cornerback David Jones (ankle), safey Kyries Hebert (ankle) and tight ends Ben Utecht (chest) and Nate Lawrie (back) were on the field after missing Wednesday.
WAIT 'TILL '09: Joe Kay of The Associated Press reported Thursday that Chad Ocho Cinco plans to keep his new name and put it on the back of his jersey next season, when he says he won't have to compensate Reebok. It's believed he would have owed the company about half a million dollars if he replaced C. Johnson on top of his No. 85. So until next year, the NFL recognizes him as Johnson in the stats.