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Lewis, Chad spar; Whitworth waiting on players, coaches; H-Back claimed

Chad Ochocinco

Updated: 12-23-10 4:25 a.m.

If Sunday is the last Paul Brown Stadium appearance as a Bengal for the club's all-time leading receiver, the fans won't see Chad Ochocinco on a full-time basis.

He said before Wednesday's practice Jerome Simpson is going to have to take half of the snaps at wide receiver because the bone spurs in his ankle are so painful. And he wasn't on the field at the beginning of the workout.

It could also be head coach Marvin Lewis' last game, so apparently the gloves are off beause Lewis went off on Ochocinco when asked an innocuous question by the San Diego media in its conference call Wednesday about how No. 85 is doing.

"Well, he's being his mopey self," Lewis said. "Hopefully, he can pull himself out of it and move forward ... When things don't go Chad's way, that's kinda how it happens."

Asked how he deals with it, Lewis said, "I don't deal with it. We just move on. We'll put a new guy in there. If he's not ready to go Sunday, we'll have somebody in there ready to go and go from there."

Which set off The Ocho, if you can believe Twitter, which The Ocho himself says you can't.

"Since when the bleep am I ever mopey?" he asked. "I'm injured for the 1st time in 9 years and it's called being mopey, unless I'm dead then I get respect."

In a later tweet, he wanted to know what was the license plate of the bus he was thrown under.

And there's still 11 days left.

Earlier, much of the media session in front of The Ocho's locker was geared more to the gag end of things. With the Bengals holding a $6 million option for him for next season, The Ocho was asked if he thought Sunday would be his last PBS game. He said since he owns half the team (which is no doubt news to Mike Brown), he can't be let go because he's got so much invested. He also said he's got a day-after-season meeting with Brown.

All of which would be interesting stuff if true.

What was true is he offered the media some of the oatmeal he made for lunch as he ducked into the equipment room looking for some hot water.

Ochocinco also says he's buying out the movie theater at Newport on the Levee just over the bridge in Newport for Christmas Eve and invited everyone.

WHITWORTH WIRE-TO-WIRE: Andrew Whitworth's 75,544-vote win over Baltimore's Michael Oher with 372,294 ballots in the fan voting at AFC tackle sets him up for a Pro Bowl berth if the coaches and players come through by the time the teams are announced Dec. 28. Whitworth never trailed, but it couldn't have been too much of a surprise given his feedback.

Like from Gil Brandt, the guru who told Whitworth his grandson was spending the first part of his Christmas vacation at the computer voting for him day and night.

"When I went into the community this year, people were nice enough to tell me, 'Our class is voting for you,' or 'We vote for you every day,' " Whitworth said. "That means a lot to have the fans think of you like that."

With the Browns' Joe Thomas and the Dolphins' Jake Long the favorites to get two of the three spots, the guys that Whitworth has to beat look to be D'Brickashaw Ferguson of the Jets and Matt Light of New England. Ferguson (225,193) and Light (220,477) finished fourth and fifth, respectively. Long (259,414) came in third and Thomas wasn't in the top five. Fan, coach and player voting is split three ways to determine it.

Terrell Owens, who probaby can't play in the Jan. 30 game because of the knee injury that put him on IR Tuesday, finished fourth among AFC receivers with 400,499 votes. The leader was Andre Johnson of Houston at 606,818.

MILLS CLAIMED: The Bengals claimed Eagles tight end Garrett Mills off waivers Wednesday after he played in seven games with three starts for two catches and 19 yards for Philadelphia. The 6-1, 235-pound Mills turns out to be the answer to the trivia question "Who replaced Terrell Owens on the Bengals roster?"

Mills, a fifth-year player out of Tulsa taken in the fourth round of the 2006 draft by the Patriots, never played for New England before they cut him in the 2007 training camp. He caught seven balls for 91 yards in nine games with the Vikings in '07 and '08 before spending most of last season the practice squad and never being active in a game. He hooked on with the Eagles after the Vikings cut him this past training camp.

The Bengals now have five wide receivers and four tight ends. The guess is Mills is going to be inactive this Sunday with the Bengals having all five receivers active if The Ocho can play.

Mills is more of an H-Back, fullback-type who is seen as a versatile, smart player that is a good special teams player.        

SLANTS AND SCREENS » Lewis had no comment on running back Brian Leonard (ankle), but Leonard came off the field limping badly enough last Sunday that he could be done for the year. He also wasn't out there early Wednesday. But cornerback Jonathan Wade (knee), who missed the last game, was. Wade was listed as limited. Running back Bernard Scott (toe) was out. Also limited were center Kyle Cook (elbow) and right tackle Dennis Roland (knee).  

Wide receiver Andre Caldwell gets his second straight start in place of Owens against the Chargers on Sunday at PBS and after watching the Bengals go out and get Owens, Antonio Bryant and Laveraneus Coles the past two offseasons, he said, "I want to show them they don't have to look any farther."

» It's a big game for Caldwell for a variety of reasons. One of them is he had a huge fumble on the last drive in San Diego last year on Dec. 20 that prevented the Bengals from scoring a TD and allowed the Chargers to kick a late field goal to win it.

He said he looked at that play a lot during the offseason and he said he also watched some tape of former Giants running back Tiki Barber, a serial fumbler. Caldwell liked the way Barber held the ball a little more perpindicular to the ground and closer to his body.

"I looked at it a lot and I finally get my (second) start of the year against them," Caldwell said. "I just want to show it's a new year and a new Andre."

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