Updated: 11:20 p.m.
GEORGETOWN, Ky. - The only way this training camp could have possibly ended, right?
On the last snap in 11-on-11 Thursday at Georgetown College, quarterback Carson Palmer might have taken a sack from an unblocked Brandon Johnson, but he moved away, stepped through it, and fired a 50-yard touchdown strike that wide receiver Terrell Owens hauled in at the goal line as he outmuscled brilliant man-to-man coverage by cornerback Leon Hall.
"Good route by him and caught the right coverage and got him in the end zone," Palmer said. "That one would have hurt, but it would have felt a lot better getting up and seeing him in the end zone with the ball. You've got to take some shots."
The Ocho then ran down to jump and side-bump Owens and 2010 training camp was officially over. Well, the public part. The Bengals have their rookie show and night off Thursday and then have their final workout Friday afternoon, a closed walkthrough in preparation for Denver at Paul Brown Stadium this Sunday at 7 p.m. That starts a stretch of two games in five days, three in 13 and four in 18.
A small crowd of maybe 1,000 in sweltering near 100-degree heat jacked the estimated attendance for the 12 days of training camp to 61,155, second only to the 2007 record and nearly double last year's 34,000.
All of which put a smile on Owens' face because he did say when he got here that the people would come out. Palmer was happy because he didn't think the transition would be so quick.
"He's way farther ahead than I would have expected him coming in," Palmer said. "He's had a whole lot of offense thrown at him in a short amount of time. He's picked it up faster than anybody I've ever been around. And I think you can attribute that to his experience and him being in a lot of systems with so many different offenses and different teams. He's extremely smart, he works hard at it. He's very frustrated with himself if he makes a mistake. I like seeing that. But he doesn't make the same mistake twice. That says a lot for the way he works."
This isn't the first time we've heard such praise about Owens from a Bengals quarterback. Two former Bengals quarterbacks, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Owens' quarterback in Buffalo last year, and Turk Schonert, his offensive coordinator with the Bills briefly last season, have said similar things.
"The Bengals and Terrell make a lot of sense," Fitzpatrick told Bengals.com back in March when the Bengals were courting him in free agency. "Carson is at his best when he's throwing the long ball and they've had trouble lately getting Chad freed up because he's always double-covered. They don't have a deep threat on the other side and Terrell can bring that because he can still run and make big plays. Just knowing Carson, I think they would work well together. I saw Carson's quotes that he's pretty much handled it all and seen it all when it comes to wide receivers and I think he's right. Terrell wants to win. A great competitor and I think he and Chad would feed off each other. The guy was a good teammate."
Owens wasn't very surprised to hear what Palmer said.
"I think, honestly that's unanimous around the league. I think there are a lot of people that think highly of me," Owens said. "It's all about who you talk to. I read the article Fitz had done with some reporter and he was very complimentary of what I brought to the team and the offense. That's not something these major networks are going to pick up on and make something of. Look at all these networks like ESPN.
"Nobody is going to pick up it. Maybe there is something to the fact I've always tried to defend myself and things are not always what they seem. You have your team reporters from ESPN and I would watch it and they report with anonymous sources and their sources said this and that. That's what's being reported and that's what a lot of people believe."
GEATHERS SIDELINED:All indications are that left end Robert Geathers won't play in Sunday's 7 p.m. game against Denver at Paul Brown Stadium when he showed up at Thursday afternoon's practice with a boot on his foot. The club is apparently doing a battery of tests to find out the extent of the injury and while it could be serious enough to shelve him for a few weeks, it looks like he's not going to miss any time in the regular season.
That means second-round pick Carlos Dunlap is going to get plenty of snaps, especially because he missed last Sunday's game and much of the previous week of practice with a concussion.
"Make them all count," Dunlap said after Thursday's practice.
"I'm going to try and get a couple of pressures. I've got an obligation to perform. This is my job. I didn't get really behind too much. I made sure I got mental reps and extra film time."
BRYANT CONFIDENT: Like his head coach, Bengals wide receiver Antonio Bryant doesn't know when he's going to be back on his $7 million knee. Bryant said he hasn't really started running yet, but he remains confident.
"I'm feeling better, but I really don't have much to say," Bryant said Thursday. "I'm just trying to be forgotten. It's hard to forget $7 million. It will be worth it. As soon as I put my feet on the ground, it will be more than worth it."
NUGENT BACK:After a two-week hiatus, the Bengals' kicking competiton is back on. Mike Nugent, out with a groin problem, returned Thursday and hit three out of four while Dave Rayner was one of two. Nugent's miss was from 36, while he hit them from 32, 39, and 44. He probably had the lead before the injury, but now it looks pretty much up in the air, particulalry since Rayner had no chances Sunday night against the Cowboys to kick a field goal.
Nugent, the Centerville, Ohio product who watched a ton of Bengals' games at Riverfront Stadium, is no stranger to Paul Brown Stadium, either. He kicked for Ohio State when they beat Cincinnati there in 2002, and while kicking for the Jets in 2007 he kicked field goals of 24, 35, and 43 in the Bengals' 38-31 win.
"And I've practiced in there plenty," he said.
SLANTS AND SCREENS
» Rookie right guard Otis Hudson collapsed as he bent down into his stance Thursday, but he seemed fine as he was carted off the field. The Bengals aren't sure if its heat related and are going to perform a bunch of tests on him during the next day.
"All tests were normal," said Marvin Lewis. "His heart and respiration seemed to be fine. They're going to do other tests, but his blood pressure seemed great."
» Sunday's game will be seen on tape delay at 11:30 p.m. inCincinnati (Channel 12) and 10:30 p.m. in Dayton (Channel 45) after it didn't sell out by the Thursday night deadline. It goes live in Columbus, Ohio (Channel 6), Lima, Ohio (Channel 35) and Louisville, Ky. (Channel 41).
» Defensive end Antwan Odom is coming back so well from blowing out his Achilles that it hasn't caused him to back off. For instance, he again went both sessions Wednesday. What did hold him out late last week was an illness he had even before camp, a stomach problem that drained 20 pounds off him.
He's down to 260 but says he's starting to put it back on. He thought that was a key for his success last year when he put on 25 pounds and checked in here at 280 pounds before playing at 275. He said it was a struggle for him in '08 being so light, when he got as low as the 240s.
» Good to see Ochocinco's Soldiers for Giving show up Thursday and spearhead a canned food drive at the training camp for the A.M.E.N. House of Georgetown that netted two laundry tubs of food, $200, and even some gas cards. The A.M.E.N. House is a Scott County charitable organization that serves more than 400 families per month.
Five of the 10 original soldiers from The Ocho's bus tour in January reunited to help. They hit charities in Cincinnati, Atlanta and Orlando back then and The Ocho said more is to come.
"This isn't a one-time thing," Ochocinco said. "It's a big part of what we're going to do this year in Cincinnati and at the end of the season hopefully we're going to take the same bus trip."