Life is good these days for Chad Ochocinco and Terrell Owens. (Bengals photo)
The only guy not talking about the new Chad Ochocinco is the man himself. With the arrival of the only other NFL receiver that has more celebrity, Terrell Owens, they are supposed to be Batman and Robin, rounding up villainous secondaries like the Riddlers in the Steelers' ever-changing scheme and the Jokers in Baltimore's dizzying deck of cards.
But it has been more Penn and Teller with The Ocho preferring, for the most part, to silently text in the locker next door while Owens entertains the media.
"Nothing has changed," he insisted earlier this week. "I'm still the same."
And, "There is nothing to say yet," indicating he'll have plenty to say once the regular season starts.
But his quarterback and offensive coordinator are saying plenty about the impact Owens has had on Ochocinco on the field. While the 36-year-old Owens is saying his friend has rejuvenated him because of his inexhaustible supply of energy, Carson Palmer and Bob Bratkowski are saying Owens has done the same for the 32-year-old Ocho.
"Chad has stepped his game up. He looks as good now as he did in 2003, 2004, 2005, whenever he was leading the AFC (in yards)," Palmer said before Wednesday's practice. "It makes sense. Chad is extremely competitive. He doesn't want to be outshone. He doesn't want to be second fiddle to anybody. Bringing Terrell in here has really catapulted his game to another level that not many receivers can get to. And that's what is exciting about Chad the potential of the year he can have."
Bratkowski has noticed it even in the smallest nooks and crannies of a day.
"It's been good for both of them," he said. "The first part is the competitiveness. Neither one of them wants to be shown up by the other. They both push each other physically. They both want to make sure they both look good on film when we practice things."
As for the non-football stuff, head coach Marvin Lewis, as he has done for eight seasons, continues to roll his eyes when the subject is Ocho Antics. Like the $25,000 fine received for unauthorized tweets during Friday's win over the Eagles. Whether it is eye rolling over The Ocho or the perception that he's a distraction, well, it's probably both.
"Nobody cares what Chad does in this building. The rest of those guys don't care what Chad is doing," Lewis said. "Those guys could care less what Chad is doing. People make more perception of Chad outside of this building. Which you know, because you're here. All 40 or 30 of you could go right to his locker and everybody would not even have a second take. It's just Chad is doing something stupid again and that is what it is going to be."
Told that an Ochocinco cereal is about to hit a shelf near you and asked if he would partake, Lewis laughed.
"Is it sugar laced?" Lewis asked, a smiling dig at The Ocho's notorious fast-food diet. "It probably has like pancakes and syrup in it or something like that. I don't think so. ... It's not on the Bengals training table, you can quote me on that."
But that's just Palmer's point. Same old Chad. He calls the light-hearted, trash-talking Chad the one he prefers.
"I like the Chad we're seeing now," Palmer said. "And he's been Chad. He still comes in and turns up his music loud. He still talks trash to the DBs and the offensive line and slaps a high five or chest bumps the guy he's talking trash to. Chad hasn't changed. He's the same guy that guys on this team get annoyed with but love at the same time."
Like safety Chris Crocker.
Yes, he says. Same old Chad. Except one difference now that Owens is here.
"He runs his mouth more. That's the thing. He has an accomplice" Crocker said. "Chad is like the person who cries 'Wolf' all the time. And then when there really is a wolf, you don't believe him. That's him. He's always crying 'wolf.' Always barking, always yapping. You don't pay attention to it. It goes in one ear and out the other."
Good to hear that at least some things never change. But Palmer has seen the other side.
"It used be they would come in and see me and Chad," he said of the national media. "Now they come into see Chad and Terrell and I get a little more time to eat lunch or watch film, whatever it is."