Lewis optimistic about return, defends desire to run; Chad iffy; T.O. played with broken hand

Updated: 4:45 p.m.

Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis doesn't have a contract for next season, but he didn't sound like a man going anywhere after Friday's practice.

Asked if he thought about Sunday's game being his last at Paul Brown Stadium, he said, "I don't think so. That's not the plan."

He said he has talked recently to Bengals president Mike Brown about the future, but "no decisions have been made about anything."

Has there been movement? The year-and-a-half long talks are still shrouded in mystery as Lewis invoked the image of running back Corey Dillon famously throwing his uniform into the crowd after the 2003 season finale.

"I'm not going to throw my helmet and shoulder pads in the stands, though," Lewis said with a smile.

When asked if the plan is for him to return in 2011 Lewis said, "My plan is to beat the San Diego Chargers. Time will take care of everything."

There were other ways Lewis sounded like he's thinking about coming back.

He disputed a story in which wide receiver Terrell Owens says he's heard the Bengals don't plan to re-sign him. Lewis says the Bengals have made no decisions about any player with the status of the collective bargaining agreement so murky. He also said he'd take back wide receiver Chad Ochocinco next season and he took responsibility for some of quarterback Carson Palmer's struggles this season.

"He's a very good quarterback, a good leader. He had his hands full this year," Lewis said. "I haven't helped him out enough. We didn't lift the weight off his shoulders enough. But he and I, he stays together in this. He stays focused on this. It's hard sometimes for him not to hiccup, or flinch. And he's the leader, he's got to stay the course, not flinch; he's got to keep pushing forward and he's done a good job of that."

Lewis also defended the offensive scheme. He said the Bengals were trying to stick to the 2009 running game template, but turnovers did them in.

"We didn't change as a football team," he said. "We didn't do it as well as we did a year ago."

After the Bengals rushed for 188 yards Sunday against Cleveland, Lewis laughed when people said the Bengals got back to what they did in '09.

"We lost 10 games there. We went into seven of those thinking we'd rush for 150-plus yards," Lewis said. "Three of them we knew would be hard sledding trying to get 100 yards. If you get 100 yards you've got a great shot at winning against three of those clubs. We dropped the ball, we did this ... those are reasons we didn't do those things. If we somehow figured out a way to win half of those games, we're sitting here playing for something that really matters. But we didn't. And that's my responsibility."

Lewis looked at the first Cleveland game, when the Bengals threw it 36 times and ran it 18, and said, "How many times did we fumble the ball? Twice."

OCHO HURTING: Wincing as he dressed for practice Friday morning, wide receiver Chad Ochocinco said he'd try and practice on his injured ankle in an effort to play in Sunday's 4 p.m. game at Paul Brown Stadium against the Chargers. It was a key practice for him because he didn't work Wednesday or Thursday. After the workout, Lewis called him "iffy," and said he'll make a decision Sunday.

The Ocho said he hasn't spoken to Lewis, so he was surprised to hear that Lewis said his "mopey" comment about him earlier in the week wasn't meant to be negative.

"He might want to read it again," The Ocho said. "I'm just getting my treatment and trying to get on the field and pull a Brett Favre and play in 300 straight."

Out of a possible 158 games in 10 seasons, The Ocho has played in 151 that included a streak of 113 straight from 2001-2008, and he's played in 30 straight. He knows this could be his last game at PBS. He says his first moment at home in 2001 is his best moment.

"Go out with a bang," he said. "First day I walked out. Tiger-striped shoes, tiger-striped gloves ... they called my name."

And Lewis did say he would be for bringing Ochocinco back despite the $6 million option.

"I don't make that decision at the end of the day," said Lewis, when asked if he'd bring The Ocho back. "I would continue to coach Chad. I think he has football left in him. He needs a good offseason. He'll obviously have this ankle cleaned out over the offseason and go from there."

If he's back, Lewis indicated he would want The Ocho back for spring workouts. He can't say that because they are voluntary, but Ochocinco has missed the last three springs and his numbers haven't been close to what they were in 2007.

"I said he needs a good offseason," Lewis said when asked if he would want Ochocinco in town.

Lewis agreed that he has close to a father-son relationship with The Ocho and that he frequently asks Lewis about issues beyond football.

"He's very smart," Lewis said. "For a guy that didn't spend a lot of time in college classes, he's very smart and very intelligent. He isn't the guy that most people see on Sunday or listen to here. He's got more substance to him than people think."

OWENS BACK: Wide receiver Terrell Owens, back in town after surgery to repair a torn meniscus in his knee, says he hears the Bengals don't want to re-sign him. But the Bengals have apparently made no decisions regarding his future. Or any player's future given the flux of the collective bargaining agreement.

Before he went outside to watch practice, Owens said he'll be ready for any team's conditioning program, which typically begins in late March. But that's on hold because there is no collective bargaining agreement and if a new one has an 18-game schedule then offseason programs will most likely be later and curtailed.

Owens revealed he broke a small bone in his left hand in practice the week of the Oct. 31 game against Miami and wore a two-inch pad under his glove.

Owens says he's back in town for the holidays and he'll be here next week to tape The T.Ocho Show that Versus has extended through the NFL playoffs. His foundation is also distributing gifts to 81 local families.

Owens finished 17 yards from becoming the third player to have 1,000 yards in 10 seasons.

"I mean it's disappointing considering in the last few games I had opportunities and I wasn't getting the ball for whatever reason," Owens said. "You get that close and know that you should have had it but what can you do? Nothing. There's always next year. Me being put in the right situation I know it's achievable.

"I really showed people that age (37) is nothing but a number. It wasn't a matter of me going out and proving people wrong. I always said I could play; it was a matter of being put in the right situation and being involved in the offense and whatever that entails, the numbers take care of themselves. I never go into a season saying I'm trying to reach this amount of yards. No particular personal goals. They just take care of themselves with the offense."

Owens doesn't think he'll be asked. And he's looking for a contender.

"It weighed into my decision to come here and obviously that didn't work out too well," he said. "It will be something that will really factor into my next stop. I'm hoping I get another opportunity. I don't see why I wouldn't or shouldn't. I'm looking forward to a team that has a good chance of winning a Super Bowl. Other than that I really don't have anything else to play for.

"From a personal locker-room standpoint it's been great. The guys are great here. I think Chad made a lot of sour moments not so sour. Being around him and his personality and other guys it made it no so bad. The record really doesn't reflect what this team is about but the locker room is an A-plus when it comes to guys."

INJURY UPDATE: The Ocho was listed as questionable after being limited Friday, as was running back Bernard Scott (toe), right takle Dennis Roland (knee) and cornerback Jonathan Wade (knee). As expected, running back Brian Leonard (ankle) is out. Center Kyle Cook (elbow) went full go and is probable.

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