Updated: 6 p.m.
The Ocho is back and he made one nice catch in Tuesday's first practice of the Bengals mandatory minicamp when he knifed between cornerback Johnathan Joseph and safety Chris Crocker to make a leaping catch. He came down out of bounds, but if there is rust, there is also trust.
"Trust me like birth control; 99.9 percent," wide receiver Chad Ochocinco said after practice. "Did you see me out there?"
The Ocho has been the only player not at the voluntaries, a fact that didn't escape both head coach Marvin Lewis and quarterback Carson Palmer, but all parties are confident he'll be ready to go when training camp opens in six weeks. The Ocho admitted he's not quite as sharp as he was at last year's camp, but he says he'll be heading out to box with former champ Floyd Mayweather in the next few weeks, as well as catching the ball.
After the day's second practice offensive coordinator Bob Bratkowski said Ochocinco looked to be in good physical shape but he could tell that he hadn't done much football activity so he limited The Ocho to "a couple" of snaps in the 11-on-11 periods.
"I've got dancer's wind," The Ocho admitted after he went through the paces for the first time since he appeared on ABC's Dancing With The Stars and taped a dating show for VH1. "I'll get (football wind) in three days."
The Ocho tossed out a tweet after the first practice asking how to treat a cramp in his right calf and he said he was dizzy because he didn't eat breakfast.
"My bad," he tweeted. "Carson and I were on point."
But his calf looked fine in the afternoon practice when he planted his feet in the ground and whooshed across the middle to catch a 20-yard ball from Palmer.
Joseph says The Ocho will get better as he goes but that the younger players already noticed a difference when he lined up.
"They were coming up to me and saying it's a little different. He gets out of his breaks a lot quicker," Joseph said. "They hear about it, but until they see it, it's different."
Palmer unintentionally made headlines last week when he said it was tough putting in a new pass offense without the No. 1 receiver. The two have spoken since, but Ochocinco said Tuesday that Palmer didn't have to say anything because what he said was accurate. Palmer said he wasn't looking to get The Ocho's attention.
"Chad knows. Chad's been in this league a long time, he's been a dominant receiver in this league," Palmer said. "He knows what it takes to be great, he knows what it takes to win. He's come in in good shape and looked good for his first day. There's some rust on him, but that will wear off and he'll get better each day."
The Ocho said he understands why Palmer wants him here.
"But I'm not here and I'm doing other things," he said. "I'm still training and doing the things I need to do to make his job easy when I do come back. That's my main focus. He needs to know I'll be right when I do get here. When he works with everybody else, it allows everybody else to get reps. When I do come back, it will take me one day to get back. He needs to trust in me like I'm birth control. That's my motto for this year."
The Ocho says the only difference betwween this offseason and the other offseasons in his career is that he spent his down time on TV.
"It's no different," he said. "My life has been a reality show. When I play football, it's a reality show. It just happens to be on another channel. Every time I step on the field, it's a reality show."
"I can't tell where he is," Lewis said when asked how Ochocinco looked to him. "He hasn't played football in awhile. He hasn't been with us. Our guys have been doing a great job on the field and when you haven't been running and playing football like we have, you're going to be behind it. He's got time to get caught up between now and training camp, but he has to get his football legs under him, which we knew he would."
SLANTS AND SCREENS
» Cornerback Adam Jones was back Tuesday after missing three weeks with a hamstring pull. "He's like Chad," Lewis said. "He's missed some time."
Jones said he is in his best shape physically since 2006, his second year in the NFL. He said he weighs 187 pounds and has four percent body fat.
» Evan Mathis, who started seven games at left guard last season, isn't on the field with what appears to be a foot problem but he is expected to be back for training camp. Also out are SAM linebacker Rey Maualuga (leg), SAM linebacker Rashad Jeanty (leg), safety Tom Nelson (knee), running back Bernard Scott (ankle) and wide receiver Chris Davis (unknown).
»Palmer won the Heisman Trophy at USC and grew up close enough to hear the strains of *Fight On, *so the news of the sanctions against the Trojans have thrown him for a loop. He says he can't say he's surprised since it's been the talk for months, but he is disappointed.
"I think the one thing that disappoints me is the scholarship part, because that part is a trickle-down part," he said. "That affects 30 kids who now won't get the chance to go to college and play Division I, maybe Division II. The 30 guys that don't go to SC now maybe go to Washington and Oregon. And the 30 guys who go to Washington and Oregon now go to Central Washington or whatever the next school is. At some point, 30 guys get cut off and don't get an opportunity to go and play college football."