PITTSBURGH - Bengals wide receiver Chad Ocho Cinco has been deactivated for Thursday night's game against the Steelers for violation of a team rule, ending his 113-game streak and season-long calm since his offseason campaign to get traded.
The Bengals made the announcement in a terse statement delivered here from the team's downtown hotel and said there would be no other announcement until after the game.
There were indications that after meetings on Wednesday night plans were made to send Ocho Cinco back to Cincinnati Thursday morning.
Brad Johansen, the Bengals radio play-by-play man, said he spoke by phone to Ocho Cinco from what sounded like the airport and The Ocho told him he "begged and begged" head coach Marvin Lewis not to sit him after he overslept an 8:30 p.m. meeting.
Amid reports that the two had a verbal confrontation, The Ocho indicated to Johansen that he didn't have one.
"He sounded like Chad. He was upset but he understood that rules are rules and he wants to get back and keep it positive," Johansen said.
As for staying with the Bengals, Rosenhaus said it's up to the team and that they realize they can't "bully" Ocho Cinco out of Cincinnati.
"It's up to Mike Brown," Rosenhaus said of the Bengals president.
With wide receiver Antonio Chatman on injured reserve, the Bengals are looking at starting Chris Henry or Glenn Holt in place of Ocho Cinco, and it looks like rookie Andre Caldwell could get some time after practing Tuesday for the first time since he got injured against the Steelers Oct. 19.
Ocho Cinco and Rosenhaus couldn't be reached for comment.
Even Ocho Cinco has seemed surprised at times at how well he has behaved and has said all the right things despite the most frustrating season of his career that began with arthroscopic ankle surgery and has continued with a separated shoulder.
As late as Tuesday he said, "Regardless of who the opponent is, my mind is really set to approach each game the same way, in the same positive manner and when the opportunities come, just make the plays."
The opportunities have been few and far between. After five Pro Bowl seasons, four of which he led the AFC in receiving, Ocho Cinco has changed his name from Johnson and the numbers have fallen. He has just 383 yards and 43 catches with a 9.3 average and four touchdowns, and he hasn't caught a ball longer than 19 yards since the Sept. 7 opener.
The entire offense has suffered since Carson Palmer's exit from the lineup with an inflamed elbow in the last five games.
The benching is no doubt going to be a blow for Ocho Cinco since it is the Bengals' lone prime-time appearance, an 8:15 p.m. game on NFL Network (Channel 5 in Cincinnati), and he loves playing under the lights.
It's been seven years and two days since Ocho Cinco last missed a game, on Nov. 18, 2001 a loss against the Titans that finished a four-game stint on the inactive list because of a broken left clavicle. Those are the only four games wide receiver T.J. Houshmandzadeh hasn't been on the field with him and that was before Houshmandzadeh broke into the lineup regularly. Houshmandzadeh had six catches for 62 yards in that stretch, all in one game.