Posted: 3:20 p.m.
The way Marvin Lewis sees it, his Pro Bowl wide receivers are starting the regular season now that their preseason is over.
The problem is, the Bengals are 0-3 in the real deal and after Friday's practice Lewis got to thinking about the impact of the decisions of T.J. Houshmandzadeh and Chad Ocho Cinco not to come to the voluntary camps and the impact of their injuries in training camp.
Lewis knows the irony is that Ocho Cinco and Houshmandzadeh have such great work ethics that they've overcome huge obstacles to become Pro Bowl receivers. But "the people around them don't know how they got here," he said. "Unfortunately, sometimes you start listening to those things and reading about yourself and you lose sight about how hard you worked. How you overcame the odds. How diligent you were in your assignments. How diligent you were in your cuts and your routes in order to be good. They worked their tails off. They defied the odds."
Ocho Cinco has just completed his worst three-game stretch in six years (eight catches for 88 yards) and he's nursing a separated shoulder, but Lewis says he's physically as good as he's been in a year that he's also had contract rage and arthroscopic ankle surgery.
"Every day he's stronger and better and it's another day of the offseason program, one more day of training camp," Lewis said. "That's what he and T.J. have had to fight through. They've had to build back up. Now they've played three games. They're kicking the season off if they were able to get the work in.
"It's hard for them to fathom the fact how much time that they would spend together in March and April in previous years."