Rematch


Ochocinco

Updated: 5:10 p.m.

The Ocho prepped for Sunday's rematch with Ravens heavyweight Ray Lewis (Sunday, 1 p.m. Paul Brown Stadium) in the boxing gym on Tuesday, but Bengals wide Chad Ochocinco pulled his punches in a careful media appearance Wednesday.

It only happened 24 days ago, but it is still as fresh as the Bengals 17-14 victory in Baltimore that day. On the Bengals' final and winning drive of the game, Lewis helped keep it alive when he was called for unnecessary roughness on a hellacious midair hit on the defenseless Ocho that sent his helmet rolling and tongues wagging.

But on Wednesday both said Lewis shouldn't have been fined. The Ocho recalled that he tweeted NFL commissioner Roger Goodell and told him not to bother.

"Nothing I can do about it," Ochocinco said. "Save the fine for me. I'm not a quarterback. No need to try and protect me. As much as I talk, and I really do get hit when someone gets the chance, they deserve it."

Lewis has been griping about the unnecessary roughing calls all year and he kept up his dissent in Wednesday's conference call with the Cincinnati media.

"Look at the hit I had on him, you don't go helmet-to-helmet, you're running toward the ball, you make a clean hit, and then you still get penalized for it," Lewis said. "So then you can ask yourself: Are you going to slow down the way you play or are you going to keep playing football the way you know how to play football? For us, it's an easy process: just keep playing football the way you play football, and everything will take its own course."

But The Ocho's media performance lacked so little controversy that quarterback Carson Palmer joked, "This is boring."

"There's nothing to talk about to Ray. There's no conversation that needs to be had," said Ochocinco of the man he considers to be his closest confidant in the NFL next to Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis. "That's the way football is played. Ray knows that. I know that. If I was to catch him slipping in midair, I would take his head off to and tell him, 'I love you.'

"If he gets the chance to hit me again, I hope he does the same thing."

Bengals offensive coordinator Bob Bratkowski had the best view and take from the press box as The Ocho scrambled to his feet.

"It was like 'Hold me back, hold me back, please, someone hold me back,' '' Bratkowski said. "They're such good friends ... I was just glad to see him get up and go on with business to the next play."

Palmer thought it showed a trait that rarely gets attributed to Ochocinco.

"I was glad Chad popped up like he did and played another play, because a lot of guys would take a couple plays off," he said. "But Chad is a tough guy and he doesn't take plays off."

It sounds like Ochocinco and Lewis have cooled their phone calls since the play.

"We haven't talked that much since that hit. I don't think it's off of (it)," Lewis said. "I just think after that, we had a tough game, we went on our bye, then he went on his bye, so he's been doing his thing, I've been doing my thing pretty much. But we (haven't) really talked like that."

And those Sunday morning scripture sessions with The Bible that The Ocho has said is a big part of his new outlook also haven't been as frequent, which Lewis takes as an encouraging sign.

"He'll do it when he really is going through something or when he needs it or really something is in his spirit, you know?" Lewis said. "He's (not) a person that just likes to be wasting folks' time, definitely mine. He'll text me really when he needs me or something is going on wrong or something is going completely right."

SLANTS AND SCREENS

» Before the first full-scale practice since the bye, Lewis said Wednesday that his team is as healthy as it has been this season and that he expected all his players to be on the field. They were, although fullback Jeremi Johnson (knee), safety Roy Williams (forearm), and safety Tom Nelson (shoulder) were limited. Two rookies, running back Bernard Scott (knee) and tackle Andre Smith (foot) were full go, but Lewis wouldn't say if Smith is going to be active for the first time in his NFL career Sunday.

The newest Bengal, fullback Fui Vakapuna, said it looked to him like Johnson could play.

» Vakapuna, the seventh-rounder who had been on the Arizona practice squad since the Bengals released him in last cuts just before the regular season, got an eyeful of the playbook Wednesday morning and said there have been a lot of tweaks to it since.

Bratkowski said after practice that Vakapuna's stint in Arizona really won't help him with what the Bengals do because the Cards just don't use the fullback as much with their various three- and four-wide sets. Vakapuna is here for insurance and Bratkowski said Johnson looked OK in practice, as did Scott.

"We had a guy in training and waiting there with Chris," said Bratkowski of the departure of Chris Pressley from the practice squad to Tampa Bay. "We felt we needed to do this to keep us in good position for the rest of the year."   

» Wednesday is usually reserved for The Ocho's media hijinks.But on this Wednesday Ochocinco called Palmer over to his locker for a joint news conference Wednesday and Palmer stood with him for a few minutes before departing with, "This is boring. Say something controversial. You're too politically correct, man. This is boring. I'm out of here."

The Ocho did say he sent a package to the Ravens defense, but if it is a la the 2004 Pepto Bismol bundle to the Browns he wouldn't elaborate. Palmer said later at his own news conference that he likes The Ocho's new approach, but that he wouldn't mind hearing "the old Chad" for a little bit, either.

» "I just want to send my condolences out now," The Ocho said of the package. "Y'all welcome ahead of time."

» The next TD celebration? It will be in honor of New York rapper Nicki Minaj using her signature move. Which seems to be some sort of shake of the shoulders.

» The biggest name on the Ravens injury list, nose tackle Haloti Ngata (ankle), didn't practice Wednesday but he's expected to play.

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