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Saturday notes: T.O. interests Ravens

Updated: 3 p.m.

INDIANAPOLIS - If the Bengals don't have interest in Terrell Owens, they could face the controversial wide receiver twice next year.

Ravens head coach John Harbaugh said Saturday at the NFL scouting combine that his club has interest in Owens and that the Ravens feel he is coming off a good year in Buffalo at age 36. Harbaugh smiled when asked about his relationship with Owens while they were both with the Eagles.

"I was coaching special teams and he played wide receiver so he was on the hands team," Harbaugh said. "I related to him through that. I've always said I've got a lot of respect for T.O. I think he's a good guy and a good player."

Asked Friday about Chad Ochocinco's lobbying for Owens, head coach Marvin Lewis played the tampering card and said he wouldn't comment.

The Ravens are also thought to be exploring a trade for Denver wide receiver Brandon Marshall. Harbaugh said the Ravens would like to sign wide receiver Derrick Mason for more than a year even though he turned 36 last month.

REX UPTIGHT: If anyone knows how critical a blocking tight end is in the AFC North, it is Jets head coach Rex Ryan, the former Ravens defensive coordinator.

Word is the guy that Ryan feared the most next to quarterback Carson Palmer when he was in the division was Reggie Kelly, the Bengals free agent tight end coming off a ruptured Achilles, because he blocked like a tackle. Particularly in pass protection.

The suddenly politically correct Ryan, who can get in trouble very easily with his penchant for saying whatever comes to mind, didn't want to say Kelly's name, never mind talk about him, at the NFL scouting combine.

"A blocking tight end is big for your running game. You see a lot of teams now using tackles out there," Ryan said Saturday of a ploy the Bengals used this season with a rotation of Dennis Roland and Anthony Collins, and later Andre Smith.

"Baltimore does that. We do that. Just because it is critical in the running game to be able to get the edge on people. If you don't have a blocking tight end it's hard to have an outside running game."

The Bengals say they have interest in signing Kelly, right now their only blocking tight end with J.P. Foschi unsigned. 

NO HEAVY LIFTING: University of Cincinnati wide receiver Mardy Gilyard, a person of Bengals interest, is going to do everything at the combine but the 225-pound bench press after his sholulders were sore following Friday's pushing and pulling in the medical exams.

BIG TIME: Maryland tackle Bruce Campbell popped the stopwatches when the 314-pounder blistered the 40-yard dash time in 4.78 seconds Saturday. It's a rarity when the big guys break five seconds, a feat accomplished by Bengals left guard Evan Mathis. At the 2005 combine, the 295-pound Mathis ran 4.97 seconds before the Panthers took him in the third round. The Bengals took center Eric Ghiaciuc in the fourth round that year after he ran a 5.11. 

HOLMGREN TAKE: The AFC North got just a little tighter this offseason with Mike Holmgren becoming the chief architect of the Browns. And he got a taste of the madness that is the North even as he had discussions with Cleveland owner Randy Lerner before taking the job during the season.

"It's a tough division. We have to bring our level of play up to those other fellows and compete properly," Holmgren said this week. "Our victory over Pittsburgh near the end of last season, I wasn't in town and I was still talking to Randy Lerner about the position, but in talking to folks that's one of the great wins ever. A 1-11 team and the Steelers such a fierce rivalry. I know this; they have tremendous rivalries within the division. Now it's our job to reach up and get where those other guys have been."

One thing we know: Holmgren knows quarterbacks and he'll get that mess figured out. Just give him two seasons and 32 games. When he talks about how tough the division is, he's talking about the quarterback play in Cincinnati, Pittsburgh and Baltimore. He says it's a longshot that both Derek Anderson and Brady Quinn are going to be on the club.

"We'll compete hard, but I mean to win and part of that is getting our quarterback situation solidified," he said. "Neither one of those young guys has played enough football to reach my criteria of playing two years in the same system, same coach. Getting through all the bumps, getting through the mistakes and then after 32 games, then you know. Either you have it or you don't. ... You're not sending men to the moon, but it takes time. ... Not only that, whoever is playing has to believe you have his back, that you're committed."

SCOUTING TEXT: Bengals backup quarterback Jordan Palmer has been throwing to USC wide receiver Damian Williams and here's his take via text: "Solid guy off the field and seems like a quick learner. Not elite speed, but very smooth and good in transition. Big play ability and knows what to do with the ball in his hands. Seems like he will be a hungry pro that is willing to do what it takes to be a productive player."

KEEPING UP WITH JONES: Here's not just another take on the Matt Jones signing. CBS's Pete Prisco used to cover the Jaguars before going national, he still lives in Jacksonville, and he got to know Jones for a few years after Jones arrived as the No. 1 pick in 2005 following his career at Arkansas as a quarterback.

"It's a no-risk signing," Prisco said. "Put him on the field. Take a look at him. He can run. He doesn't play as fast as his time, but it's not a bad signing. Matt Jones is a good kid. He had some young, immature party issues but he's not a bad kid. It took him awhile to adjust to playing wide receiver. Then he got hurt, then they had a new offense, then they had a new quarterback. And he had a good year his last year there. I think with all he's been through, he'll be focused and that's what he needs."

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