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Bengals begin abuzz

Chad Ochocinco arrives at training camp Wednesday and meets the media. (AP photo)

Updated: 5:35 p.m.

GEORGETOWN, Ky. - Notes and quotes from check-in day Wednesday at Bengals training camp.

» The last guy who knew about Terrell Owens joining the Bengals was the man who put it all in motion.

Quarterback Carson Palmer got off the plane from California on Wednesday at midnight, opened his phone, and had enough text messages to know that he would be throwing to a Hall of Fame receiver this season.

But after Palmer checked into camp here at Georgetown College later Wednesday, he downplayed his role in the Luring of T.O. He threw for three weeks to Owens at an elite camp near his So Cal home and told Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis that he looked good. That, he says, was about it.

"I just let him know we're a contender, that if he wants to come and be a part of what we started, then he'll be a great piece," Palmer said. "You can recruit and over-recruit and I didn't want to oversell the thing. I was just letting him know we're a good team and thankfully he decided to come."

It has been said that if there is any quarterback in the league that can handle the craziest and whackiest things that the NFL's seemingly bottomless well of volatile wide receivers can come up with, it is Palmer. At one time he had guys like The Ocho, a guy that had a miniscule fuse on Sunday in T.J. Houshmandzadeh, and the trouble-plagued Chris Henry. Palmer thinks he's equipped.

"I think so. We've been through a lot here. A lot of ups and downs, a lot of personalities, a lot of egos," Palmer said. "He's definitely got a big personality. I've had a channce to practice with him and he's been very easy to work with. Coachable and very knowledgeable. He's played in a lot of different systems and he was very willing to shed light on the information he has."

Palmer had literally been hearing about Owens all offseason. Bills quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick, Palmer's backup in Cincinnati for two seasons, called him the day after his season ended and told him, "You guys have to sign this guy." 

"He knows our system. He knew T.O. could bring something special to our system," Palmer said. "That was the first thing I heard and it was obviously all positive for Ryan to weigh in and say this guy is really good.He was not an issue. Terrell and I had kind of talked about that. He had said he had been through some stuff. The media can portray things in any way they want and I kind of think he's been misunderstood and I think he would claim the same thing."

» With second-round pick Carlos Dunlap signing his contract at about the time the Bengals convened their team meeting Wednesday, first-rounder Jermaine Gresham is the only unsigned player but he didn't look to be close enough to a deal get here by Thursday's morning practice.

That puts the roster at the maximum of 80, so someone will have to get released when Owens is expected to sign his contract some time Thursday. All signs would point to a wide receiver getting released.

» Head coach Marvin Lewis' annual Georgetown College mantra this trip is "Work To Do," which is not only on T-shirts but on a sign leading to the cafeteria. There is also a a "Strike First, Strike Fast" sign, which Lewis seems to have picked up from the Army and his USO trip to Afghanistan earlier this month.

» The Bengals already did strike with the signing of Owens, but he won't be here until Thursday and an 11:45 news conference with head coach Marvin Lewis. That is between practices at 9 a.m. and 7 p.m. P.R. honchos Jack Brennan and P.J. Combs are preparing for as many as six satellite trucks, a training camp record.

» At the moment there is no word if Owens will wear his signature No. 81, which is already held by wide receiver Antonio Bryant. Bryant, obviously would have to want to do it, but someone would also have pick up the tab for the inventory of No. 81 Bryant jerseys in stock at Reebok and the Bengals. That is probably in excess of $10,000.

» It is supposed to be a circus, but Ochocinco reported to Bengals training camp Wednesday and delivered a State of the Union message declaring Owens the team's No. 1 receiver.

"I've done some great things for this team and this organization," said The Ocho, the Bengals all-time leading receiver. "But, of course he's No. 1. He's a Hall of Famer. ... Out of respect of what he's done in his career."

Wearing a Hollywood T-shirt and his Frank Sinatra straw hat, The Ocho also said it would be "a (bleep) shame if we don't win the Super Bowl," and if this is the year "we're going to do it, this is it."

He said he spoke with LeBron James on Tuesday night and texted Dwayne Wade and said that the Bengals big three (Ocho, Owens, Carson Palmer?) are better than the Miami Heat's new big three.

» Andrew Brown, director of ticket sales, said Wednesday morning that since the news of Owens' signing broke Tuesday night the Bengals have sold more season tickets than they did all last week combined. Brown called action "brisk but not overwhelming," and said single-game tickets have also spiked with the Sept. 19 home opener against the Ravens in the lead. The Nov. 8 Monday night game against the Steelers has already been hot and Brown says tickets are limited.

» Andre Caldwell admitted the Owens move means he might have "diminished" playing time and "maybe not. I'm just going to keep grinding and playing my hardest."

 You're also talking about the 11-year-old that started following Owens' career when he was a rookie with San Francisco and is thrilled to be rooming with him.

"I read his book. I've been watching all this time," Caldwell said. "He's one of the greatest receivers. ... To be able to learn from him is something I'm really looking forward to."

Caldwell had the line of the day: "If Chad can't disrupt this team, I don't think T.O. can."

Lewis called Caldwell the most improved player coming out of the spring and the kid kept going after the late June mandatory minicamp. In the last five weeks he's lost 10 pounds and he said he had the coaches oohing and aahing when he tipped it at 187, 20 less than two years ago as a rookie. He felt like he had to work on his stamina (it may be coincidence but his costly fumbles in Oakland and San Diego last year came in the game's last minutes) and he feels like it is the fittest he's been in his life.

"I'm ready to be a star myself and show these coaches I'm ready to take over," he said.

»One of the guys severely hurt by the T.O. signing in the receiver derby, is extremely upbeat. The former No. 1 pick of the Jaguars, Matt Jones had hoped to revive his career here in Cincinnati as the rangy downfield threat once offered by the late Chris Henry.

On Wednesday receivers coach Mike Sheppard said Owens gives the Bengals what Henry used to give them.

"It's awesome. I think there's a lot to learn from him," Jones said. "From everything I hear he's a great practice player and I'm looking to see how he goes about it and learn as much as I can. I don't doubt my ability. I think I'm talented enough to make any NFL team. I'll do my best, he's a great addition so things should all work out."

Jones says he thinks two or three receivers that don't make it here will hook on elsewhere. He hopes he's one of the six in Cincinnati, but he's also trying to get on tape in the preseason after not playing last year.

"Big thing for me is to get out there and when they throw me the ball, catch it, make a couple of plays and it will all take care of itself," he said.  

» Right guard Bobbie Williams surfaced with a Segway, one of those people movers that was a Christmas gift quarterback Carson Palmer gave all his offensive linemen. The 350-pound Williams promised he'd be careful on the thing, saying, "All of this isn't meant (to be up in the air.) I'm going to keep both feet on the ground."

Palmer wanted to know how he was getting around and wondered, "Should I have got him a helmet?"

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