Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis loves what T.J. Houshmandzadeh brought to the Bengals. But he doesn't see a reunion.
"If our football team were constituted differently, it would be a great spot for T.J. to be back at," Lewis said Sunday. "But right now where we are, I don't know that it would be good for him in respect to where we are."
Translation: He'd be grinding for playing time with Terrell Owens, Chad Ochocinco and Jordan Shipley, the Bengals' top three receivers going into New England next Sunday.
Houshmandzadeh, the third-leading receiver in Bengals history, was cut from Seattle on Saturday just a year after he left Cincinnati via free agency. But Lewis not only texted him Saturday, he also head from teams that were interested.
"I gave them the true, honest appraisal," Lewis said. "Obviously, T.J. helped us get where we are today. He's good pro, a good young man."
Houshmandzadeh is the first to say that sometimes his temper can get the best of him and that he can be volatile. Lewis smiled when his name first surfaced in the Sunday news conference.
"You consider anything," he said. "Other than a hole in the head. I don't know if that might be close."
But he also said, "He's going to get another opportunity quickly and I think he'll make the most of that opportunity and I'll be happy for him."
Lewis introduced the newest Bengal at his media session and recalled how interested the Bengals were in safety Reggie Nelson three years ago before they drafted cornerback Leon Hall at No. 18 and the Jaguars took Nelson three slots later. One of the things they really liked about Gibril Wilson before he was lost for the year with a torn ACL was his experience of 80 NFL starts. In Nelson, the Bengals get back 42 starts who was on the outs in Jacksonville.
"It's a great move for us," Lewis said. "To get a veteran young player. A guy who has started a lot of games in the NFL. A guy we had great feeling for prior to his being drafted by the Jaguars and now we have him here. It kind of hits us in a position where we've had some injuries. As we go forward into the season it will be a very good plus for us to get Reggie here."
Nelson joked about coming to a cold-weather city after attending Palm Bay High School in Melbourne, Fla., and the University of Florida before playing in Jacksonville. He did spend time in Kansas when he played at Coffeyville Community College, where he was a teammate of Bengals cornerback Johnathan Joseph.
The Bengals are looking to take advantage of Nelson's big range at safety and probably aren't going to move him around at cornerback like the Jags did last season.
"Just live and learn and take it from there," Nelson said Sunday. "It's a blessing for me. It's a second chance of playing this game I love to play. When they said I got traded, I'm still playing football. I'm still doing the same thing I love. I'm coming to a defense that's been doing very well the past few years. I'm just coming in to learn and help out anyway I can."
Nelson understands that he's here as a backup starting off.
"At this point I'm just going to come in and do what I'm asked to do," Nelson said. "Whether it's special teams or helping out the defense, when my number's called I'm going to show up and play football."
It has been a whirlwind 18 hours for Nelson since being told of the trade that sent backup cornerback David Jones to Jacksonville along with a conditional draft pick. He landed in Cincinnati about 8:30 Sunday morning, dashed to a physical, walked into the news conference, and was then escorted to the cafeteria by public relations director Jack Brennan 15 minutes before a team meeting.
"I'm starving," said a grateful Nelson.