T.J.: I'll make it next year

T.J. Houshmandzadeh shrugged off getting left behind in Tuesday's Pro Bowl voting just like he took a shot after making another third-down catch.

"That's OK. I'll go next year," Houshmandzadeh said. I'll go next year wherever I am."

The four AFC receivers are Denver's Brandon Marshall, Houston's Andre Johnson, New England's Wes Welker, and Indianapolis' Reggie Wayne.

Houshmandzadeh, named the second alternate this year, was actually more curious about the guy that made it ahead of him as the first alternate despite his NFL-leading 31 third-down catches and his looming second straight 100-catch season. Houshmandzadeh was told he finished third in the fan vote and he thought he might have some support among the other two blocks, the coaches and players.

"I didn't expect to make it," he said.

But he also said, "Yeah, I think I should have been one of them," said Houshmandzadeh, whose 92 catches in the league trail only Johnson and Welker. "But I can understand when you've got guys who are having good years and going to the playoffs or their teams are still in it. That's what happens when you lose."

After they had high-profile performances in the last two Pro Bowls, the Bengals didn't get a representative for the first time in 10 years. Houshmandzadeh, who went to his first Pro Bowl last season, became the first Bengal to score two touchdowns in the all-star game between the AFC and NFC. The year before, quarterback Carson Palmer was named the game's outstanding player.

Houshmandzadeh doesn't even know if he would have played in the game if he had been named given that he's a free agent after the season.

"I probably would have been advised not to, but I don't know what would have happened," he said.

With the Pro Bowl votes in, now the biggest question facing him is his whereabouts for next year. He's losing hope it will be in Cincinnati and he's convinced the Bengals won't put the franchise tag on him. He does say that there doesn't have to necessarily be an offensive overhaul for him to return.

"It doesn't look good right now (for coming back). But optimistically I say 50 percent, maybe 40 percent," he said. "I just figure the way things are going, there are going to be changes but that's something I don't really think about."

ROSTER MOVES: The Bengals on Tuesday waived linebacker Victor Hobson and signed rookie guard James Blair to the practice squad.

A sixth-year NFL player, Hobson signed with the Bengals on Dec. 3 and played in Games 13-14 (no statistics).

Blair was a Bengals college free agent signee last May and played in all four Cincinnati preseason games. He was waived on Aug. 30 and was briefly on the Indianapolis practice squad in September.  

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