Updated: 11 p.m.
Once upon a time, Bengals wide receiver Chad Ochocinco made more news with his rage than with his tweets.
Some say the team hasn't been the same since his explosion at halftime of the 2005 Wild Card Game. He even says he was a "bleep" during his season-long funk of 2008. But even though he's on pace for just the third sub-1,000-yard season of his career (978) and the Bengals are 2-11, The Ocho nowadays saves his harshest words for Twitter.
And even then he says, "It's Twitter, don't ever feed into Twitter. Don't ever feed into Twitter."
The problem is now, we don't know if he's putting us on.
Asked why he uses Twitter, he shoots back, "Why do you read it?"
The Ocho made some news like the old days Tuesday night when he admitted on his Versus show with Terrell Owens that he's become numb to losing. On Wednesday he clarified it.
"You don't let it bother you, instead of being part of the problem, you try to be part of the solution," he said before practice. "The way to do that is to do what I do every week. I've taken sort of a backseat to who I am. It's sort of different, if you want to call it the right way. Just working the simple stuff. No extras. I call it being numb because what I'm forced to do because of the situation we're in as a team is to be somebody I'm not."
He reminds he's the same guy that "cried being 4-1 when we lost to Jacksonville (in 2005)."
Like his offense, Ochocinco is struggling. He's hasn't had a 100-yard game in seven straight games. Not counting his rookie year and '08, when he didn't have any, it's Ochocinco's longest streak without a 100-yarder since the first eight games of 2006.
But head coach Marvin Lewis likes what he has seen since Ochocinco whiffed on a block Nov. 14 in Indianapolis. In the last two games, he averaged 19.2 yards per his five catches against New Orleans and Sunday in Pittsburgh he had six catches for 71 yards for his best day against the Steelers in three years.
"I think he's done a good job of managing it," Lewis said of The Ocho's anger management. "I think I communicate and remind him a little bit, because I can, and because I want him to keep things in perspective. Chad has a great opportunity to finish the season and finish it strongly. He should take his body of work since the Indianapolis game and keep getting better and better and better.
"Make sure you get your guy blocked. We had a situation where he didn't block a guy against Indianapolis, the guy makes a tackle for no gain, and we're on the goal line. He says 'I didn't see him.' Well, you saw him three plays earlier, because you blocked the same front, same defense, same way, same play. The attention to detail to stay on it is important, and he's done a much better job."
On Wednesday, The Ocho bit his tongue as the questions flew about Owens questioning of management and coaching.
"I don't cross those boundaries," he said. "You know that. So why would you even ask me that?"
Then The Ocho grabbed a mike and turned the question around to the reporters.
"Do you feel what Terrell said, was he right?" he asked. Then he shrugged.
"I plead the fifth. I don't know. I don't feed into that," Ochocinco said. "Terrell is one to speak his mind and when he speaks his mind I guess there is truth to it. I don't remember what he said, but you guys know the answers better than I do. I don't pay attention to up top. I'm just getting on the field and having fun. It's numb. You don't understand that."
But he did blame the players.
"It seems like everything is out of whack this year for some reason. To have the most talent of any Bengals team we've had, I don't care what anybody says," The Ocho said. "Show me a roster better than this one and to be 2-11 is ... I don't know."
"Unfathomable?" he was asked.
"Good word. I'll use that on Twitter," he said.
"When it doesn't come together like it should, what's the problem? It's the bleeping players," he said. "(The coach's) job is easy. Look, this is what the coaches do. They have this little book, right? They give us this little book and it has the plays. All they do is teach us. It's really easy. These are the plays. We just have to go out and execute this right here."
Ochocinco defended the offense when asked if it was too complicated.
"It's the same offense for the last 10 years," he said. "How could it be complicated?"
And he defended his quarterback, now the subject of trade rumors.
"There isn't another quarterback that has the arm to play in this type of offense," he said. "I'm telling you right now; he's not the one to blame. With quarterbacks, I don't care, on any team you're only as good as your supporting cast. Bleep that."
He said a shakeup wouldn't shock him and then offered his help.
"It depends on who does the shaking and who gets shook," he said. "You've got to shake the right people. Depending on what you shake is not going to help that problem (empty seats). That's where I come in at. They can make me part of the marketing department, which helps selling out games and stuff. I can really boost (things) around here."
Then, like everyone else, Ochocinco ended it all with a question. Would a shakeup include him, knowing the Bengals have to exercise a $6 million option for 2011.
"Me too? Do I have to leave? I'll raise hell. You don't want to cut me. Would It be cutting?" he asked.
Serious? Or putting us on?
Whatever it is, it has replaced the rage.
TOUGH QUESTIONS: This is what happens when what was supposed to be the best Bengals team ever under Lewis in a last-shot year. Now the Bengals are riding the longest losing streak in team history, the CBA expires along with Lewis's contract, starters such as Cedric Benson, Johnathan Joseph, Terrell Owens, Dhani Jones, Roy Williams, Bobbie Williams and Reggie Kelly are headed to free agency, and Owens is on cable talking about how the losing starts with ownership and coaches.
So in the first media session of Browns week on Wednesday, there are questions and answers like this one to Carson Palmer:
Q: Can you imagine not being a Bengal in the future?
A:* *Yeah. Anything's possible. This is a business and anything can happen in business, so yeah.
Owens didn't back off the comments he made on his Tuesday night show with The Ocho, when he met the media for his weekly news gig on Wednesday. But he did include players as part of the blame.
"I was basically making a general statement. With any organization where you are trying to build a championship team, that is where it starts at - from the top," Owens said. "Again, it wasn't me singling anybody out. I'm just saying that here we are now. It's an embarrassment. Obviously it's disappointing because when I was brought here, I knew my role. I understood why I was being brought here.
"For myself, we have a show every week. I have to put on a face to do that. It has become embarrassing. Every week it has been at topic, why we are losing. It's one of those things where I can't be ashamed to address it. It is what it is. To be 2-11 at this time, how can you hide from it? I am not going to back down because somebody asked me anything about why we are 2-11."
Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis followed Owens to the podium a bit frostily and didn't acknowledge him when they passed. He didn't rip him, but didn't embrace him either.
"I think all the time, you make sure guys understand (that it creates a situation)," Lewis said. "When guys choose to act out, pop off, whatever you want to term it, what I say is, 'Look no farther than yourself first, and go from there.' In this case, no one was willing to bring (Owens) aboard for a long time, and then we ended up doing it late, so don't hurt yourself in that situation as you go forward. There's a lesson there. Unfortunately once we say something, we don't get the chance to take it back. We try but we don't get to, and it's too late sometimes."
Lewis admitted the raised expectations built this season into a pressure cooker.
"The season hasn't gone as we expected. Last year we won the division, and we're not there this year. We really had one addition that was added very, very late, and that was him. It comes with some pressure, being where we are compared to last year. We all, like he said, need to do things better, and we all have a hand in winning football games. Again, we don't look any further than that, but unfortunately he gets looked at that way. We haven't done well enough. None of us."
The locker room chose to downplay Owens's remarks. The Ocho said he even forget what Owens said, even though he was sitting right next to him on the show.
"I plead the fifth. I don't know. I don't feed into that," The Ocho said. "Terrell is one to speak his mind and when he speaks his mind I guess there is truth to it. I don't remember what he said, but you guys know the answers better than I do. I don't pay attention to up top. I'm just getting on the field and having fun."
Palmer gave a shoutout to ProFootbalTalk.com, but he didn't give Florio and Rosenthal any more fodder.
"This is that time of year, and it's better when it's happening across the league," Palmer said. "When you're reading stuff on ProFootballTalk.com or different guys are saying different things, or things are happening in certain locker rooms. Unfortunately it happens here, but no reaction to it, and I don't think anybody will react to it."
Palmer also copped a plea when asked about his thoughts about a possible rebuilding in Bengaldom, saying it is hard enough to prepare for the last three games of the season.
"In this business you can't be surprised by anything. It is a business, it's run business-first," Palmer said. "I really try not to stay focused on what's going to happen with Cedric and Johnathan Joseph and all these guys that are going to be free agents, because you can't do anything about it right now. It doesn't matter right now. It really actually doesn't matter right after the season, because there's so many things that need to unfold before the CBA, the coaching changes and all these different things that happen right after that last game of the season. It's really way too early to be thinking or speculating on what's going to happen."
SLANTS AND SCREENS:
�� This can't be good. Cornerback Jonathan Wade (knee), whohas started two of the three games he's been here, wasn't on the field for Wednesday's practice after four defensive backs have gone on injured reserve in the last five days. Neither was wide receiver Terrell Owens (knee).
Starting corner Jonathan Joseph (ankle) was on the field after missing two of the last three games. But he was limited. Also on the field were new safeties Marvin White and Keiwan Ratliff, former Bengals who weren't playing when signed the last two days. Or as head coach Marvin Lewis calls them "Nos. 17, 18 and 19" in the secondary.
Also limited were wide receiver Chad Ochocinco (ankle), WILL linebacker Keith Rivers (ankle), and defensive tackle Pat Sims (knee).
�� With nearly 363,000 votes the Bengals' Andrew Whitworth continues to lead the fans Pro Bowl vote at AFC tackle. He expanded his lead to 147,508 over the Ravens' Michael Oher. The top five consists of Miami's Jake Long (195,578), the Jets' D'Brickashaw Ferguson (173,773), and Pittsburgh's Flozell Adams (156,034).
Bengals wide receiver Terrell Owens sliped from second to third in AFC receiver voting with 320,365, nearly 10,000 less than second-place Reggie Wayne of the Colts and 40,411 more than Baltimore's Anquan Boldin in fourth. Houston's Andre Johnson leads comfortably with 433,206.
Voting continues online and on Web-enabled mobile phones by going to NFL.com/probowl through Dec. 20. For the first time, fans may vote on Facebook by visiting www.facebook.com/bengals and clicking on the "Pro Bowl" tab.
�� About 12 hours after their television show spawned headlines in Cincinnati, Ochocinco played reporter and asked Terrell Owens at his weekly news conference Wednesday if he agreed it would be for the best to keep together a talented roster for "one more shot" next season.
"That's not a department I can elaborate on," Owens said, "considering I'm on a one-year contract."
Owens ruffled some feathers Tuesday night on Versus when he said the reasons for the Bengals 2-11 record starts with ownership and continues down to the coaches. On Wednesday he added the players into the mix and said he didn't mean to single anybody out.
"We're all in this together," he said.
But asked if he'd like to come back next season, he didn't say no.
"Of course. We definitely have the necessary pieces in this locker room to do it," he said. "Why that isn't getting done? Chad said it best. He's been around here 10 years and he can't put his finger on it. But the 15 years I've played in this league and the organizations I've played in, I understand that there are things that are different in this locker room than elsewhere.
"It starts from the top down. You look at the eight to 10 ballgames that we've played, we've pretty much been in those games (until) one phase or another has failed us. So where does the blame lie? We're all in this together."
�� For the first time in the 11 seasons of Paul Brown Stadium, the Cleveland game isn't expected to be sold out.
�� It looks like Browns rookie quarterback Colt McCoy could taste The Battle of Ohio for the first time. He practiced on his ankle full go Wednesday and when the Cincinnati media asked about playing him or Jake Delhomme on Sunday, Browns coach Eric Mangini said, "Colt is going to get some more work this week and I think I���ll have something more definitive later this week. He worked some last week and he���ll get some more work here today and then we���ll be able to make a decision."