GEORGETOWN, Ky. - The biggest non-scrimmage crowd in the 14 seasons of Bengals training camp at Georgetown College was treated to an entertaining practice Saturday night of some dazzling catches and relentless play by the Bengals backup cornerbacks to highlight a record day that saw 10,000 fans come through the gates.
There could be another big one Sunday at 3 p.m., when Terrell Owens merchandise goes on sale.
The crowd of 6,500 serenaded Owens and Chad Ochocinco, but while starting cornerbacks Leon Hall and Johnathan Joseph rested minor nicks, Adam Jones and Morgan Trent flew around the place. Jones raced down the sideline to knock a bomb away from Owens and on another play he was draped all over Owens but the 6-3, 225-pounder leaped up and powered the ball away from the 5-10, 188-pound Jones.
Morgan, who looks to have lost his nickel spot to Jones, had a solid morning with an interception and kept it going with solid play in the night session. Defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer is still looking for more discipline from Jones but he likes how hard and fast he's playing in showing his cover abilities. When Jones forced a low throw to Ochocinco on a comeback route to end one 11-on-11 period, Joseph, Hall and the other DBs surrounded him with congratulations on the sideline.
Hall and Joseph, after their breakout years last season in which they emerged as one of the NFL's best tandems, could make their 2010 debut in Sunday's 3 p.m. practice. Hall has yet to practice after mildly tweaking his back during a workout last week and it was thought he could return by the weekend. Joseph suffered a thigh bruise Thursday but didn't rest it until Saturday night and he said he thinks he can be back Sunday.
After the autograph session at the end of practice, the record crowd got a scare when it saw linebacker Rey Maualuga holding his leg stretched out on a cart racing to the locker room. But Maualuga said it was merely a cramp.
It was the second record crowd of the day because 3,500 were here in the morning for the biggest morning crowd in history. School officials Stacey Varney and Eric Ward not only chalked it up to the T.O factor, but also to lower gas prices, the Bengals AFC North title, and personalities like head coach Marvin Lewis and Ochocinco. Plus, this is the Bengals' only weekend at camp since they travel next Saturday to play in Sunday's Hall of Fame Game. The biggest crowds have always been the Intrasquad scrimmage and Mock Game, both scratched because of the trip to Canton.
"I think the people who came tonight," Ward said, "were the same people that would have come to the scrimmage. This was their scrimmage."
They didn't see wide receiver Antonio Bryant in either practice. Cincinnati's biggest catch in free agency at $7 million per year hasn't practiced since he gingerly went through the first one on his less than 100 percent knee. And Lewis didn't offer any timetables. When asked if it is short term or long term, he could only offer, "He'll be ready when he's ready."
"We're doing what we said we were going to do two days ago," Lewis said. "Backing him off and giving him an opportunity to get himself completely healthy. ... We're going to give him the opportunity to be back to 100 percent. He wasn't with us for awhile (the month leading up to camp) and you have to give him an opportunity."
Special teams coach Darrin Simmons ended the day looking to get more consistency from the kickers. After two sessions, Mike Nugent is 9-for-11 and Dave Rayner is 6-for-11.