'I can play, I can play'

10-4-03, 7:55 p.m.

**In this week's installment of his diary of a NFL rookie, Bengals wide receiver Kelley Washington takes a look at his two huge catches in last week's victory over Cleveland and what they may mean.

In the first series of the second half, he and quarterback Jon Kitna converted a third-and-10 on an 11-yard sideline catch and later in the drive they converted a third-and-six when Washington made a leaping 17-yard catch in the middle of the Browns' zone defense despite strong safety Robert Griffith's mid-air hit. His only two catches of the game kept alive what turned out to be the winning touchdown drive in the 21-14 victory.**

I've got a web site, kelleywashington.net, and from what they tell me, there were a few more hits on it this week. There are people from home and from up here who have e-mailed to get my autograph or telling me to stay positive and to keep it going.

You ask me about giving the first-down signal after both catches, and that's just the type of player I've always been. Whether it's a five-yard catch or a 50-yard catch, I'm going to get excited. When I injured my neck last year in college, I almost had this opportunity taken away from me. Every little chance I get, I'm going to make the most of it because it almost didn't happen.

It was important to show the coaches and Jon that I could make a play when we needed one. It looks like I'm going to get more plays designed for me where I'll be the first option and that's really all I can

ask for at this point. I'm not looking to take catches from Chad Johnson and Peter Warrick. I'm just looking to get my share because I really do feel like when it's one-on-one, I'm hell to stop.

When I caught that first ball, I felt like a weight had been lifted off my shoulders. Jon told me later in the shower how big of a play he thought both of them were, and the first one shows that he and I were on the same page.

It was an out route I ran on No. 33 (cornerback Daylon McCutcheon) and there was a blitz, but I didn't have to make a site adjustment. The route wasn't long enough and the safety was coming from the deep middle, so I kept running it. If it had been a longer route, say 15-to-20 yards, and the safety had been closer, then we're adjusting. But we both read it the same way and that was good.

I was the first option on that one, but not the second one, and that's going to happen when you're the No. 3 receiver. In my mind, I better make sure I catch it when they come my way because if you drop it, that's just another one they're not going to throw you the next time.

I had to go up and get the second one, and that felt good because it was another third down. Every day, I go out there and block and put my head in there and make plays and get hit. The neck is fine.

After that second catch, I came back to the sideline screaming, "I can play, I can play." Just to let them know. They know I'm an emotional player and I'm going to do that.

We're working on things now to get me more involved, more primary routes, and I can't wait. I'm going to be exciting and do exciting things because I take pride in how much I love the game. Maybe it's because the chance to play was almost taken from me.

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