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Friendly Battle

11-16-03, 12:55 p.m. In another installment of his weekly rookie diary, Bengals wide receiver Kelley Washington discusses playing against his closest friend from college, another third-round pick from Tennessee. Julian Battle just happens to be a cornerback for the Chiefs. Washington also talks about preparing for the biggest game of his pro career during a whirlwind week at Paul Brown Stadium that included wide receiver Chad Johnson's victory guarantee.

I talked to Julian Monday and Tuesday and it was mainly about the game and how well they're doing and how we've turned our season around. He basically told me that they better watch out for us.

He's a lot like I am. He's a big (6-2, 205 pounds), physical, fast guy who is playing mainly special teams for them. Like me, he's an outgoing guy who talks a lot of trash and just enjoys playing. The minute he showed up at Tennessee from junior college, we just clicked.

We talked about playing against each in the NFL back in those days, before we got drafted. We would go after each other real hard in one-on-one drills, talking a lot of trash and even throwing a few punches at times. Back at Tennessee, we always talked about how we would play each other. He'd tell me he'd get physical with me and I told him I would use my size and strength on him. We both know how lucky we are to be here and playing in the same NFL game. There's a chance we could lock up receiver vs. DB because he sometimes he plays on their dime defense. If not this year, then in the future.

He asked me about Chad and was wondering, "What is he talking about? What's wrong?" I think he knows Chad, but I just told him that's the way he

is. That's his thing.

I'm a lot like Chad. I'm a confident player. I need to get on the field more and have more production before I start being more of myself.

I wouldn't ever a guarantee a win just because I know wins are so hard to come by in this league. But I don't see it as a distraction. I'm sure Chad is going to go out there and do his best to back it up, just like we all are going to go out there and do our best to back it up.

Julian and I are in almost the same situation. There are guys ahead of us making a lot of money who have been real productive in the system. He's looking at next year and whether it's this year or next year, I know I'm going to get a chance because I'm productive whenever I get on the field. That's just the life of a NFL rookie. You have to wait.

When I found out about Chad's contract ($26 million, five-year extension), I was happy. I was like, "Congratulations." I didn't see anything distracting about it. For me as a young player, it put up a red flag for me. If you go out and perform, you will be rewarded. Chad deserves it. He practices hard and goes out and plays well in the games. I know if I do that, I will be rewarded, too.

It was a week that reminded me a lot of the first week, but we're prepared to go out and play a better game. Guys were real serious out in practice this week. Not missing assignments. Catching balls. We know how big this game is.

Both Brat and Ken Zampese (offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach) came up to me this week and told me I'm doing well and even though I might not be getting a lot of balls. To be patient. I was in for about 20 to 25 snaps last week, and we ran it so much that it was one of those games you just suck it up and do what's best for the team.

There was a big-game atmosphere, but I'm used to that. A roomful of reporters and big names like from (ESPN's) Game Day. That's what I know and that's what I like.

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