Bengals right end Antwan Odom, who has missed the last four games with a shoulder problem, says he'll be back in the lineup this Sunday against Washington in the 1 p.m. game at Paul Brown Stadium.
And he has not thought about putting it on the shelf for 2008 at 1-11-1.
"I never think like that. I love playing football. If we were 0-16 I still want to play," Odom said before Wednesday's practice. "I want to win. That's the bottom line. Money doesn't matter."
But the bottom-line issue is money. Odom, the Six Million Man (average per year) who is the Bengals' richest free agent ever, has struggled with his health literally since he first stepped on the field. A foot injury suffered on the first day of training camp sidelined him until the week of the regular-season opener and he didn't make his first start until the third game.
"At the beginning of the year it was pretty good; off and on," he said. "Its all about the injuries, they kind of set me back awhile. Next year should be a better year. It is frustrating. That's my thing. I want to show everyone I'm worth the money I got paid."
Odom also notes that both Washington left tackle Chris Samuels and right tackle Jon Jansen are hurting and are expected to be replaced by guys that haven't played much this year. "We have to try and take advantage of that," said Odom of a pass rush that has four sacks in the last four games.
Stephon Heyer, an undrafted free agent from '07 who has seven NFL starts, two this season, probably gets the nod at left tackle against Odom. With their offensive line buffeted by injuries, the Redskins are 21st in the NFL in giving up sacks per pass.
Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis said at his Wednesday news conference that it looks like starting safety Chinedum Ndukwe (foot) and starting cornerback David Jones (knee) can also return. Ndukwe has missed the last three games, Jones the last two. All three were dressed on the field Wednesday and were limited, as was left tackle Levi Jones (back). Wide receiver T.J. Houshmandzadeh (hand) and running back Chris Perry (groin) didn't work. (Wednesday Injury Report)
"Now that you mention it, I just thought about it," said Ocho Cinco before Wednesday's practice. "We would have had two first-round picks right now."
Of course, it wouldn't be "we" then, but Ocho Cinco had some nice things to say about Bengals president Mike Brown on Wednesday, perhaps recalling that it was Brown and head coach Marvin Lewis that never backed down from their public belief that trading him and going with a lesser player on the field would seriously harm their chances in 2008. Who knows how they feel now with one win and The Ocho barely at 500 yards with three games left, but he concluded Wednesday "I'm happy where I'm at. I'm not happy about the situation we're in."
"I sat back and thought about it after talking to so many people in the offseason and my owner, that everyone talks about and always everybody has so many things to say about, he has been so generous to me," Ocho Cinco said. "When I sit back and think what this man has done for me financially and been very supportive. He's done nothing but have my back and I really, really, really (dissed) on the organization in the offseason. It was like a slap in the face. I didn't sit back or have the time because of the frustration to think what this man has truly done for me. One. Two. Three contracts. Whatever it was. He's been really generous."
The Ocho admits it's an open question if he's going to be back here next year, or if it's going to be T.J. Houshmandzadeh, or if both will be back, or if both won't be. But one thing he knows is that Brown is upset as he is about this season. He knows because last week he "interrupted" one of the morning meetings that Brown and Lewis have every day.
"I didn't have a meeting with them. I just interrupted their meeting," said Ocho Cinco, who has been known to wander around and say hello. "Coach Lewis sat there and said to me, 'There is nobody madder than Mike Brown.' I said there might be one person madder than him and that's me. Mike shook his head, 'Yeah.' Maybe because he's not boisterous that way in his world. But he's (mad). I saw it for myself sitting in that chair early in the morning."
Back in the offseason, The Ocho spiced his trade rants with unspecified criticism that the team wasn't set up to win. Asked if he thinks Brown is mad enough to make some changes, he said, "Maybe. Maybe. You never know. I just want to get back to the Bengals of old where it was fun. Where people couldn't wait to Sunday."
Doss, a Canton, Ohio product who helped lead the Bucks to the 2002 national title, has been trying to find his way since knee reconstruction ended his four-year career with the Colts in 2006 and nobody picked him up when the Vikings let him go after he was inactive for seven games last year.
With a two-year deal, it looks like Doss is going to get a shot to win a job next year. But he was needed here now for experience purposes with three safeties on injured reserve and safety Chinedum Ndukwe trying to play with a tear on the bottom of his foot with plantar fasciitis.
"It's kind of twofold," said Lewis when asked if Doss can help himself for next year. "It helps us I think now, hopefully. And as much as he can get in and learn. It's new for him, different than what we had with Chris Crocker, who was already familiar with Mike Zimmer's terminology. It'll be a little harder transition for Mike to make than what Chris had to make."
But the 5-10, 207-pound Doss may be a quick learner, too, since he has been working as a volunteer assistant coach with the Bucks since the spring. Not only that, he says he has been toiling in the weight room every day at 6 a.m. with Eric Lichter, the team's director of performance, waiting for another shot. That's where he mainly worked with the players, but he said he also went to meetings and handled one-on-one questions.
"I'm learning to see if I want to be a coach while still pursuing my dream," Doss said. "It's on the horizon. I don't know for sure. It's just that while I had the opportunity, why not maximize living in Columbus? Working out with the Buckeyes, it's a great organization. Once you're a Buckeye always a Buckeye."
This isn't the first time Doss and the Bengals talked. He's been on their radar since the '03 draft and the flirtation continued when he was a free agent the past three years but never has their need been greater.
"What I like about Mike is his eagerness and his athleticism," Lewis said. "He's been productive in the NFL. We spent a lot of time with Mike prior to him coming out in the draft. We're very familiar with him. In fact, we had a lot of contact with him recently from Columbus. Hopefully this will be a good spot for him to land, a good opportunity for him for the future, to compete for a spot on the roster and to compete to be a starting player. He can play the football in the air. He's got to prove he can handle the physical part of the game, the tackling and things like that that you have to do in the secondary to be productive in the NFL."
And he hasn't missed a start or game despite tearing the connective tissue running along the bottom of the foot. A similar injury has sidelined Ndukwe and tight end Ben Utecht.
Jeanty generally goes limited on Thursday, practices full Friday, and plays Sunday. He's also still dealing with the 16-inch rod that was placed in his leg during the 2007 preseason after he suffered multiple stress fractures of his tibia.
T.J. Houshmandzadeh is 11 catches from becoming the eighth man in NFL history to have back-to-back 100-reception seasons.
"He'll get it," said Ocho Cinco. "Then I hope he gets $100 million in the offseason. A hundred catches. A hundred million."
The Ocho made this prediction about next season: "We'll be back. Winning."
Asked why, he said "because everything I say is right." He also said this has been his best season because even though he's struggling (50 catches for 507 yards with three games left) he says, "But I haven't blown up."
Asked about being sent home for insubordination after he walked out of a meeting the night before the Pittsburgh game, he said, "But that was quiet."
As for not getting the start Sunday in Indy, The Ocho said he doesn't mind giving up a couple of snaps a game to rookie receiver Jerome Simpson since both play the X spot.
"Why should I?" he asked. "Those two kids right there (Simpson and Andre Caldwell) are special."
Asked if Simpson's rawness and lack of big-time college competition remind him of his own situation in '01, The Ocho agreed.
"We're two completely different receivers, but, yeah, the backgrounds are about the same," he said. "Coastal Carolina is probably a little like what I went through at Santa Monica JC and I only had four months at Oregon State. That wasn't time for anything."
Offensive coordinator Bob Bratkowski begs to differ.
"I think Jerome will be fine. He's got real good athleticism," Bratkowski said. "He just has to play. But Chad played in the Fiesta Bowl and played against Notre Dame and those guys. Jerome didn't have that."
Another tough ending for defensive end Eric Henderson, who became the 18th player still here to go on season-ending injured reserve Wednesday. Henderspn spent all last year on IR with a badly broken wrist in preseason and after spending all this year on the practice squad, he finally made his NFL debut in Houston. But he hurt his neck the next week against Jacksonville and couldn't come back.
To fill his roster spot the Bengals signed rookie defensive end Chris Harrington from the Arizona practice squad. The 6-5, 260-pound Harrington was a sixth-round choice in the last draft. He played in all four Cardinals preseason games with 10 tackles and a sack.