GEORGETOWN, Ky. – A slew of players, Terrell Owens included, were given Wednesday's sweltering morning off in preparation for the 7 p.m. practice here at Georgetown College on a day that is supposed to reach near 100 degrees.
But cornerback Johnathan Joseph indicated he won't go at night and his status for Sunday's preseason opener is, as he says, "up in the air."
"Anybody who has a thigh bruise knows what it's like," Joseph said. "I want to be out there, but I don't want to hurt the team, either. It just needs rest."
Joseph did it six days ago on the first day of camp and practiced with it before taking the weekend off. After three straight practices, he decided to back it off again Wednesday morning.
» Wide receiver Matt Jones (bruised foot) is going to try and run Wednesday night with hopes of going Thursday. The wideouts were also down with wide receiver Antonio Bryant (knee) missing another one.
» University of Kentucky strength coach Rock Oliver, a former Bengals guru, provided the escort Wednesday for Wildcats coach John Calipari, his old boss with the New Jersey Nets. Calipari, a Pittsburgh native who loves the Bengals (yes, he follows the Steelers, too), almost got taken out on a sideline play. And in Kentucky, the basketball coach is bigger than the governor and both U.S. senators.
"If I don't take him back with me, I'm looking for another job," The Rock said.
Calipari offered a seasoned scouting report on what he saw and came away raving about the talent.
"People talk about my teams being long," he said. "I just saw a long, long, long football team. Terrell Owens has the body of a 25-year-old. He looks like a superhero if you put (a cape) on him. Everybody knows what Chad Ochocinco can do. Carson Palmer has to be 6-6, 6-5.
"It's got to be nice going to practice every day knowing you've a chance to play for the world's championship. You don't mind practicing, the food tastes better, everything is better."
When Calipari and The Ocho traded pictures for their Twitter feeds, cyberspace must have shook.
"I told him I'll send it to my million followers and he said, 'I've got a million, too,' " Calipari said. "I just checked. I've got 50,000 more than Chad."
» Speaking of The Ocho, he's made some great catches this camp and his latest came on a play-action rollout from the 20 and Palmer throwing it across the field, where The Ocho did one of his classic tip-toe stretches falling out of bounds for a touchdown.
Even Palmer noticed in the humdrum of another camp.
"Great catch. He's so good at maneuvering his body on the sidelines and finding the holes and zones."
Palmer and The Ocho have had their moments, but Palmer talked expansively on what a good camp he's having at age 32 and off an offseason he did more footsie than football. Told it was a catch that looked to be in midseason form, Palmer said, "I don't know if Chad is ever out-of-season form. He's always in-season."
The one guy who never takes a day off is The Ocho and he'll go hard again in a few hours.
"He's a great player. People have an opinion of what he should and shouldn't do," Palmer said. "He's looked great every day of camp. His routes have looked great. He's made some unbelievable catches. He's ageless. You don't notice him slowing down, you don't notice him taking less reps, you don't notice him taking a day off. He's ageless and looks great. He just needs to keep working and he'll have a big year."
» You'd figure NBC's Cris Collinsworth would never be surprised by the Bengals. He played for them for nine seasons and has lived in Cincinnati going on 30. But the Owens signing did it when asked if he thought it was a typical or not move by Bengals president Mike Brown, a guy that loves big but young receivers.
"I thought it was a shocking Mike Brown move," Collinsworth said. "I've been around here forever and a day as a season ticket holder. It was stunning. Not that he signed Terrell Owens, and I think he proved in Buffalo he's much more a team player than he was in the past. But just the fact the Bengals made that bold of a stroke. Really? And think the feeling among the fan base whether it works or it doesn't work, the fact that they went for it, they just had a go-for-it moment and that was exciting in and of itself."
Collinsworth is with the rest. He puts the Bengals there as a possible Super Bowl team.
» If the Bengals do go, one of the reasons is the athletic and hustling defensive tackle Domata Peko. He's a bit jacked up because he says the Bengals are going to use him more as a traditional 3-4 nose tackle. Not a huge amount because they are still 4-3, but just enough and he likes it.
"We did it a couple of times last year when they did the tackle over stuff," Peko said. "It's still pretty new to me ... you're one-on-one with the center. Sometimes you get the guard chipping on you, but you're head up with the center. I like my odds on that."
» The nice thing about having referees work a camp practice is you can get an official count on field goals. With Mike Nugent still sidelined, Dave Rayner hit 5 of 8. He was 5-for-6 before he badly missed a 50-yarder pulled way left and then barely went wide ride from 50 again.