Ocho: Blame players

Updated: 4:15 p.m.

Lack of a long ball?

Chad Ocho Cinco says don't blame offensive coordinator Bob Bratkowski. Blame the players.

"It has to be," Ocho Cinco said as he held court on some Xs and Os after Wednesday's practice. "When we don't do the little things right, it doesn't help him."

The Ocho, whose longest catch is 22 yards, pointed to 2005 when he and quarterback Carson Palmer had a field day improvising at the line of scrimmage.

"Now they don't let us do that because we're having trouble executing," he said.

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Ocho Cinco

Yes, The Ocho said, he did give head coach Marvin Lewis a kiss on the sidelines Sunday in Dallas, but it still didn't get him anything deep. He said the Bengals called only one downtown play all day

Ocho Cinco said he and Lewis have a ritual on the field. When one is under stress, the other will tell him, "Smile." That's why Ocho Cinco kissed him in the midst of another frustrating three-catch, 43-yard day.

Lewis did smile when asked about the deal Wednesday and he could only point to how Cowboys wide receiver Terrell Owens had just one catch most of the day and didn't make his second until 11:46 left in the game. But it was a gamebreaker, a 57-yard crossing route for a touchdown that jacked a 17-16 lead to 24-16.

Lewis has been emphasizing to Ocho Cinco for as long as he's been here that it takes just one play to have a big day. And the later, the better in tight games.

"There's a receiver across the field that had just one pass thrown to him; one completion and one catch," Lewis said. "Then he had a big play. And that's what you've got to look to.

"The quarterback is coached to deliver the football to what he perceives to be the weakness of the coverage and the design of the play. He doesn't survey the field. He has progressions he needs to get through. And unfortunately the coverage may dictate you don't get as many opportunities that you wish."

Lewis hopes The Ocho is looking at how some other big-time receivers around the league respond.

"We're still working hard through that; you have to point to some of these other guys," Lewis said. "When they get their chance, they make big on it, and that's what you have to be ready to do and I think that's a maturity thing that he's working hard on."

RUMOR POPPED: Lewis was hot about a printed rumor that had wide receiver T.J. Houshmandzadeh getting traded. As of Wednesday afternoon, all indications were that the Bengals are not pursuing such a trade.

"What club in its right mind would trade for a player that's going to be an unrestricted free agent?" Lewis asked. "If you're going to start a rumor, make it a good one. Make it something that would make some sense."

Houshmandzadeh said there has been no contact about his contract and since there has been such a long silence, he said he wouldn't be surprised if this is his last year as a Bengal.

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