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Cosby brings show


It's the first time Texas wide receiver Quan Cosby has been in the state of Ohio since his 26-yard touchdown catch in the last minute felled the Buckeyes in the Fiesta Bowl.

And, no, there have been no incidents.

"No, no hate mail. But I haven't checked my e-mail yet. There could be some waiting," he said with a smile as he walked off the field Friday.

There is everything to love about Cosby, except maybe his height of 5-9. He vacuums every ball near him, he returned kicks and punts in college, and he missed the first day of Bengals rookie camp because he had been summoned to a University of Texas fundraiser in Houston to share the dais with the UT president and the dean of the school of social work that hands him his degree May 23.

"About 15 to 20 minutes,"' said Cosby of the length of his speech. "It was basically a lot of alums in Houston and we were representing the school."

And who better? While catching 92 balls for the Longhorns this past season, Cosby continued his community service and put together meet-and-greets and UT stadium tours with coach Mac Brown and his players for groups representing Down Syndrome as well as cancer patients.

When the Bengals agreed with him on a free-agent contract after the draft, he told them he couldn't get here for the start because "he had a meeting with the school president and that tells you something about him," said head coach Marvin Lewis.

He's the grown-up man of this camp. At 26, Cosby is already a community icon, a playmaker for one of the nation's top colleges and a 340-game veteran of pro baseball in the Anaheim system that ended with a .260 batting average.

And, he shared the ESPN tube with a TV legend when he spent Sunday with Bill Cosby, no relation but plenty of mutual admiration. Bill was so impressed with Quan's 14 catches, 171 yards and two touchdowns in the Fiesta Bowl that he reached out to him. Cosby the younger introduced him at his show in Austin soon after and they got together on Draft Day in Englewood, N.J., before one of Bill's shows.

"He's very inspirational," Quan said. "He always brightens up the day no matter what and he's got great messages to share."

But if Cosby is going to make this team, the guy he has to impress is assistant coach Darrin Simmons and it's going to have to be on the underbelly of the NFL and not on center stage:

Special teams.

Specifically, returning the ball.

Specifically, punt returns.

Cosby returned just six last season, the longest for 14 yards, but did average 9.4 yards on 19 returns the year before.

"There's not much to tell out here because we're just catching the ball. He never had any issues with that in college from what I can tell," Simmons said. "He did kick return in college extensively, not punts. If you're looking for a body type for that, he fits the mold. He'll get the opportunity."

Plenty of opportunity for a team that hasn't returned a punt for a touchdown since 2003 and where it averaged less than eight yards per return last year.

"As long as I'm running around with these guys at the same tempo and speed, I don't feel old," Cosby said. "If I continue to do what I did at Texas: Catch the ball, be smart out there and play special teams, I have a good shot to make it."

The 5-9, 200-pound Cosby is coming off two seasons he caught 152 balls and he had a 12.2-yard average in '08.  He has been taking notes on how his style compares.

"Steve Smith is a smaller guy that goes up and gets the ball. He catches most everything that comes his way," he said. "Him or little (Wes) Welker. The way he moves the chains. It's OK if Randy Moss scores the touchdowns; he catches the 100 balls to get them down there. I really respect him. That's the big thing. To keep the chains moving, get the first downs and keep the offense rolling."

Cosby also knows he'll end up in the slot here at some point. He played both outside spots at Texas, but knew the inside.

"I like the routes. I like battling those inside guys," Cosby said. "They don't usually have the deep routes, but they have to make huge plays to keep the chains moving. I like that responsibility."

There's not a lot of room at receiver. There are spots, more than likely, for Laveranues Coles, Andre Caldwell, Jerome Simpson and Chris Henry. Take the Bengals at their word and there is a spot for Chad Ochocinco. So it would seem there is a battle royale for that sixth and final spot. And the guy better be able to return.

Or at least come up with plays like the one that beat the Bucks with 16 seconds left.

"They were blitzing two linebackers and leaving one back in (man) coverage," Cosby said. "It's got to be the biggest (catch) because of the way we won and the way my career ended."

Now his other one is starting in Ohio.

"I'm hoping to make some more so they won't remember me for that," he said.

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