2-11-4, 7 p.m.
BY GEOFF HOBSON
**The last time we saw Peter Warrick, the Bengals wide receiver limped to the end of his break-out season during the finale against Cleveland, nine days after arthroscopic knee surgery. He had more surgery on the torn meniscus after the season and has emerged lighter and hungrier for a fifth season he predicts is going to be the best of his career.
After watching fellow Bengals wideout Chad Johnson in last Sunday's Pro Bowl and Pro Bowl wide receivers Marvin Harrison and Torry Holt during the playoffs, Warrick is looking to drop more weight (about eight pounds) and catch more balls on his way to Hawaii. The man known as P.Dub took a break from rehab for five questions (or thereabouts) from Bengals.com.
GH: Did you watch Chad in the Pro Bowl? Did it give you any ideas?
PDUB:** You know that. I watched the whole game. I wanted him to win MVP. I'm mad he didn't. If the AFC had won, he would have got it. We talked before the game and I told him good luck and to go out balling and that I'll be there with him.
That's a goal of mine. I can let you know my goals right now for this year. Get 1,300 yards, 10 touchdowns, and three punt returns for touchdowns. **
GH: How is your knee coming along?* *
PDUB: ** I had a torn meniscus (cartilage) and after I had it scoped, they went in and did some more surgery to clean it up some more after the season. Before the surgery, I could only bend the leg 90 degrees. Now I can move it 130. It's sore, but the knee will come back even better than before. What I'm mad about is the weight, but, you know what? What I'm down to after the surgery is where I should be.
Right now, I'm about 182 pounds and that's the lightest I've ever been since I've been here. I'd like to get to 187, lifting a little weights, and play at 187. They wanted me at 192 last year, but I was probably 195, and I did feel lighter and faster because the year before that I played at 200. Now I want to get lighter and faster than that. I want to tone this up. Keep up this Six Pack with my abs that I've never had before. Such good tone you can see the six points of your abs. It will be different. It will be better.
Look at a lot of guys. Like Marvin Harrison. He's 6-foot, (175 pounds). I'm 5-11. I'm shorter than he is, but I weigh more than him. I feel if I'm shorter than him, than I should weigh less. Torry Holt is 6-foot, 190. See what I'm saying? I'm a stocky little guy, that's all that is. I thought about that (watching the postseason). Man, that's what I need to do. God has a plan for me. I think that's it.
GH: You're coming off your best season with 79 catches, 819 yards, and seven touchdowns. Why the break-out year now? It seemed like they came up with more packages for you. More ways to get you the ball. The Kansas City game (a 68-yard punt return and 77-yard catch for touchdowns in the fourth quarter) had to be the best game of your career personally and as a team.
PDUB: I had a nice season. I just think it's getting better every year. I told my family the fifth year is going to be the best year just because I know the system and what I have to do. We've got Coach Brat (offensive coordinator Bob Bratkowski) and I've been with him how many years now? Four? Now I can do things better with more experience, more knowing what I have to do.
It's not that they used me better. Maybe before I was thinking about getting the ball upfield. Last year, I just started thinking about taking the ball upfield. If I catch it short, then catch it, then take it up the field, instead of thinking about getting the ball deep down the field and stuff like that.
That's all I was worried about. That's why I said to myself, "Don't worry about the deep stuff. Do what I do when I get the ball and just make something happen," and when you do stuff like that, you're going to get added more stuff for you. Plus, I'm a team player. I don't complain. I don't think I'm selfish. I just decided, if you make plays, they have no choice but to use you.
I like that Denver game I had my first year. (One catch for nine yards, but a 77-yard touchdown run off a reverse in the game Corey Dillon set the NFL rushing record.) Nah, it was Kansas City. A punt return and a deep pass in the fourth quarter. Got to go with that.
GH: You went from getting benched the previous two years on punt returns to one of your best seasons. The Bengals were next-to-last in returns two years ago and went to No. 12 last year. How much better can you get? You seemed to respond to the things new special teams coach Darrin Simmons brought in, like the double press that kept the opposing ends away from you as you caught the punt. **
PDUB:** It was the scheme Coach Simmons has. He knows how to use it. The double press gave you more time to catch the ball, but it's all about dedication. You've got to have some guys dedicated for you. I'm going to get better this year. I know I'll return more than one (for a touchdown). I'm going to work hard because I want to be dedicated as a punt returner. I love punt returns. It just means watching more film and catching more punts so it becomes more natural. Just make it boom, boom, boom.
Punt returns are all about having good vision, getting up field, making the right cut off the right butt. That's what it is. Football people know that terminology. **
GH: Coach Simmons said you had never been taught how to read a punt while it's in the air? I think the only one you dropped this year came in Baltimore.* *
PDUB:** He just taught me this year. I got better as the year went on. At the end, I got to the point I was catching almost three balls at a time in practice out of the jug (machine). I'd catch one regular, tuck it, then catch another one with one hand and tuck that one. So now I've got two and when a another punt is coming, you throw up one of the other balls and catch the one coming in with one hand, and then catch the one you tossed up yourself. Three of them.
(In Baltimore) I tried to catch it away from my body. I'd like to have that one back, but I'm going to get better.