Update: 8-5-10, 3 a.m.
GEORGETOWN, Ky. – For all the VH1 and tabloid stuff, wide receivers Chad Ochocinco and Terrell Owens sure put in a pro's day of work.
Take Wednesday, which had a high of 99 degrees, and it didn't appear as if the Ocho missed any of his snaps in either the morning or night practice. Then when his day was finally done but practice was still going he asked for two ice bags for his knees. But then he told the trainer, "Let's wait until it's over. Marvin (Lewis) will say something."
As for Owens, he didn't work in the morning but supplied the cheer of camp at night in front of 3,600 when he ran past cornerback Leon Hall and hauled in a 55-yard bomb from quarterback Carson Palmer for a touchdown.
(That made nearly 6,000 on the hottest day of camp after 2,300 braved the morning.)
But this might have been more telling than that: As he stretched following practice, Owens wondered to wide receivers coach Mike Sheppard about a play gone awry and wasn't sure if he ran the play wrong.
After the stretch, Owens jogged over to Palmer, already holding court with offensive coordinator Bob Bratkowski, and Palmer informed him he actually ran the right route.
"There was a pressure he needed to get involved in looking early on and he didn't; those are the things he's learning," Bratkowski said. "He cares deeply about it. He wants to get it right. He wants to make sure and he wants to learn it fast."
GOOD NEWS, BAD NEWS: You can tell the defense emphasized pass rush over the offseason because the defenders have been swarming all over the quarterback the first week of camp and stopped short a lot of plays with either sacks or scrambles.
But the downside is it has put a lot of pressure on protection during an early stretch when defense is usually ahead of the offense. Bratkowski knows it will get better but he still observed after Wednesday night's practice, "We're struggling with protection ... our defense is playing extremely well. We're working (against) a lot of pressure stuff, forcing the ball to come out hot."
Palmer went 1-for-4 in the two-minute drill at the end of practice, which ended when rookie linebacker Vincent Rey came off the edge unblocked for a sack. But it is the second offensive line that has really struggled, Bratkowski says, in large part because of youth.
With backup center Jonathan Luigs barely practicing this camp, seventh-rounder Reggie Stephens is getting a lot of snaps. So is fifth-rounder Otis Hudson with left guard Evan Mathis coming off a calf injury and free-agent rookie tackle Andrew Mitchell with Andre Smith on the shelf.
"Sometimes it's mental errors on our part. Sometimes technique errors. Sometimes just getting our butt whipped in one-on-one situations," Bratkowski said. "So you add the combination up and you end up with a lot of broken-down protections. It has to get fixed and it will get better. It happens a lot early. Our second group has to make some improvements and actually some of the guys in the first group have to make some improvements."
POINTS OF EMPHASIS: Referee John Parry's crew sat down with the Bengals on Thursday to go over rule changes and points of emphasis, but the offensive line was already asking questions while the refs worked the Wednesday morning practice.
With the umpire moving from the middle of the defense to the side opposite the referee on the offensive side, Parry is anticipating more offensive holding calls and that's not good news for a club that finished fourth in the AFC with 24 of them last year.
The move was made for safety reasons after collisions resulted in two surgeries and two to four concussions for umpires. But they will go back to their old position in the final two minutes of the half and game to aid in marking the ball.
In a breakdown of the NFL's 2009 penalties published in the officiating department's media booklet, it is no surprise to any Bengals fan that the Bengals also led the league with 15 delay of game calls, nearly double the eight of second-place San Diego in the AFC. Or that their 24 false starts were third in the conference.
Bratkowski says the coaches have looked at all 15 delays and have implemented some changes. It was also a byproduct of being forced to go with some funky formations to account for losing two tight ends before the first preseason game as well as Andre Smith's injury.
"We had a lot of substitution packages. We were going with extra tackles and a lot of change in personnel between two tight ends, regular, back and forth," he said. "We had some substitution issues where we were sitting there and people were confused in the huddle got us to the line of scrimmage. At the line we do a lot of things that bring us right down to the end of the play clock and if we get a late start on it we run out of play clock.
"It's got to be fixed. That's the one thing we have to do. You make sure you practice a lot more on your substitution. We've done some things in the huddle to avoid anything happening with 12 people in the huddle .. the players have to communicate. They have to be on top of it. When someone approaches the huddle they give them the personnel group. That could mean any of one, two, three people come out and communication is critical. Those things have to be fixed."
The offense had some penalties Wednesday. In the morning, they false-started in red-zone work and at night they went early before one two-minute drill snap.
INJURY UPDATE: It was hard to sift through who was getting a day off and who was nursing an injury Wednesday night, but here it goes:
The one injury that appears to concern the club is FB Fui Vakapuna's shoulder that he hurt during special teams Wednesday morning. He then missed Wednesday night and if it doesn't respond in the next week, that's a problem because the only other fullback is free-agent Joe Tronzo. The Bengals would have to move tight end Dan Coats there or go get a guy.
RB Cedric Peerman appears to have a leg injury and is up in the air for Sunday against the Cowboys. Same with K Mike Nugent. WR Matt Jones has a bruised foot and could be back as soon as Thursday after having a successful run on it. The word on WR Antonio Bryant is that he is going to start testing his knee out in the next few weeks, maybe next week, but not before then.
It appears that Luigs is still trying to bounce back from offseason hip surgery. RT Andre Smith (foot) is shooting to play in the Aug. 28 preseason game in Buffalo.
RE Carlos Dunlap (concussion) looks like he won't play Sunday. And maybe not SAM linebacker Rey Maualuga (hamstring) and CB Johnathan Joseph (thigh). S Gibril Wilson didn't finish practice and had ice on his back. Brandon Johnson (knee) got a rest for both workouts Wednesday and should be back. DT Domata Peko, because he'd taken so many snaps in the first week, got to rest both practices and is fine.