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Notes: Elbow grease

Updated: 9:10 p.m.

Carson Palmer politely disagreed with the notion Wednesday that things would be all that different if he were the quarterback for all 12 games the Bengals have gone 1-10-1.

"When I was playing, we were 0-4 at the same time," he said. "It's tough to say that."

It's also tough to say that he's going to be back this year when he's pumped up about throwing an NFL football 15 yards at most the next few days.

It will be either Saturday or Monday at Paul Brown Stadium, but it will just be the first throwing session in what may be one or two weeks in a program that is going to determine if he needs surgery to repair a partial tear of the ulna collateral ligament in his throwing elbow.



"Leather and laces," Palmer said triumphantly after throwing a Nerf football in the gym for a couple of weeks. "Ten to 12 yards and work by 50 to 60 to 70 percent and make a determination in a week or two. It depends on how far the progression. If I knew I had to have surgery, I already would have done it."

Bengals president Mike Brown said earlier this week that there are "good" signs that Palmer can avoid surgery, but Palmer would only say, "We'll see," and was thinking about his longest throw with the Nerf.

"I got it 12 yards, but it was accurate," he said. "Tight spiral."

He says he hasn't cut it loose yet and is only throwing fairly lightly. But he hopes to amp it up so he can find out if he's "pain free being able to throw and the tendon is strong and healed and enables me to get zip on the ball and power behind the ball," he said.

Palmer, by the way, is a listener of sports talk radio and finds a decidedly different climate when people see him face-to-face when the subject is the Bengals.

"When you see people around town everyone is as positive as can be where everything on the radio is as negative as can be," Palmer said. "I think there's a little bit of a difference of what you hear on the radio and what you read compared to every day fans, neighbors, people in the grocery store, whatever it may be. They're very supportive, upbeat, looking forward to next year."


Ocho Cinco

COMBO WOES: This was supposed to be the pitched (and catch) battle between the best two receiving combos not in a desert.

Ocho Cinco in Chad Johnson vs. Numero Uno in Marvin Harrison. And the twin best No. 2 receivers in football in T.J. Houshmandzadeh and Reggie Wayne.

But a funny thing happened on the way to the showdown in downtown Indy.

The Ocho hasn't caught a ball longer than 19 yards in three months and he hasn't broken 500 yards this season while Harrison is the fourth-most prolific receiver on his team. And, remember, the fastest human being to 600 career catches is Harrison in just 102 games. The second fastest? The Ocho and Herman Moore are tied at 118. The fastest to 500? Harrison is second with 90 games and The Ocho was close behind in 97.

If Harrison took off on his Hall of Fame jaunt with the best first seven seasons in history (665 catches, 8,800 yards), then The Ocho wasn't all that far behind at the end of last year with 8,365 yards on just 559 catches.

Meanwhile, Houshmandzadeh is within reach of his second straight league receptions title and while Wayne won't defend the NFL receiving yards crown he snatched from Ocho Cinco last year, he's just 130 yards away from his fifth straight 1,000-yard season.

The last time the two teams met, two Decembers ago when the Bengals were one win away from a playoff berth with three games left, the pregame buzz was about how much the Bengals combo had learned from the Colts duo and it was time for a transition of power.

But Ocho Cinco dropped a big-play pass on the first series of the game, the Bengals went on to lose their last three to miss the playoffs, and some would submit the offense hasn't been right since. Since that Monday night in Indy, the Bengals have scored three touchdowns in six of the last 31 games.



"We saw it coming last year," Houshmandzadeh said of the NFL's most futile offense. "It might have been masked by big games here and there and it skewed the stats a little bit. You can put your finger on it, but then you're blaming somebody else and that's not right."

But even though it's looking more and more like he's not going to be here next year, Houshmandzadeh predicted, "Even if I'm not here, it will be better. The coaches know what the problem is and I guarantee you they'll fix the problem and it will be a lot better."

The Ocho's biggest day this season is 57 yards. This from a guy that came into the season with 35 career catches of at least 40 yards and who says he's always open.

"I haven't had a big day by now. I don't think a big day will be coming any time soon," said Ocho Cinco, who is clearly displeased with how the offense has unfolded this season. "I don't have enough fingers to put on what the problems are. I only have 10 of them. We have more than 10 problems why we're not successful as an offense. And I'm one of them. I'm pointing to myself. I think the most important thing is me realizing I am the problem. Everybody plays with injury. That's not an excuse. I'm still able to do what I can. I can get open. I'm pretty good at that. I'm really good at getting open."

Houshmandzadeh isn't exactly happy, either, that he's not getting chances downfield.

"We'll get a big play, but it won't be me," he said. "It's going to be Chad or Slim (Chris Henry)."

What a difference 31 games makes.

PLAX REAX: Chad Ocho Cinco won't lie.

When Redskins safety Sean Taylor was shot to death in his own home by intruders last year, Ocho Cinco decided to protect himself.

But only in his closet.

"I'm a fan of guns, but I don't put myself in situations where I have to use them," said Ocho Cinco, reacting to Giants receiver Plaxico Burress' arrest on gun charges. "And I sure don't carry them."

Ocho Cinco figures as a high-profile athlete he's at a bit of a risk no matter where he goes.

"There are places where you minimize something happening to you, but it doesn't matter," he said. "If you're a target, you're a target. Regardless. A la Sean Taylor in the protection of his own home. Being high-profile players and being able to carry weapons and protect yourself, it's a 50-50. Because when you carry it, it weighs heavy if you get in trouble, if you have to use it, or if it's used against you. It's hard."

In the end, he figures not to figure.

"Where I go," he said, "I'm sure I have enemies. Enemies to a point where they would want to harm, injure, or even rob. But I just live my life. I don't think about it."



Head coach Marvin Lewis thought about it and made sure he talked about it in Wednesday morning's meeting. But he's been doing that long before the Bengals had a terrible 13-month period from December 2005 to January 2007 marked by a rash of arrests.

"He always talks about that stuff ever since I got here," said defensive tackle John Thornton, who arrived with Lewis in 2003. "Even before all the stuff that happened here, if there was a troubled situation around the league, he would always make it a part of his meeting."

Lewis sent a rather pragmatic message Wednesday.

"If you have to go somewhere where you feel you've got to carry a handgun, you don't need to be going to that spot. Let us help you go somewhere else," hesaid. "If you feel the urge, all right, we go through a lot of stuff with players. We have since '03 as far as our counseling and so forth, and having people come in and express how you do things the right way, and that's not changed. We had a little dip in the thing, or a blip on the radar there for a bit, but I just wanted to remind the guys to keep doing things as pros and be smart. Understand that you don't put your life, your career and other things at risk."

On top of what the NFL mandates for various life-skill sessions, Lewis has always gone the extra yard in seeking area law enforcement officials to speak to the team as well as motivational speakers. So it makes him shake his head at times.

"I don't know why anyone around here should think this, but sometimes guys think they're above the law," Lewis said. "But there are rules and there are laws, and you're subject to them. And really, there's a heightened sense of awareness of it in the public (for NFL players). You're not going to get away with things."

Bengals cornerback Geoff Pope, who played with the Giants last season and early this year, was stunned Burress and his other former teammates got caught up with the police in such a manner.

"He's a pretty cool dude," Pope said. "I'm still in shock. New York is such a big area that those guys are more of a target than they are in a place like this."

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