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Talk of Owens' pending arrival dominates start of Bengals camp

  • By NFL.com Wire Reports
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A flamboyant Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver has the whole team talking, and this time it's not Chad Ochocinco.

He's overshadowed by a player who has yet to arrive -- and won't until later Thursday.

Terrell Owens missed his overnight flight to Kentucky on Wednesday and had to take a later one Thursday, delaying his debut during the first day of workouts at training camp.

Meanwhile, his teammates-to-be tucked pillows and sound systems under their arms, unpacking for the start of training camp at Georgetown College. The Bengals had planned on Owens arriving early Thursday, taking his physical and signing his contract while the rest of the team worked out in the morning.

The Bengals also had planned an introductory news conference after the morning practice, then expected Owens to join in an evening workout. The news conference was rescheduled until after the evening practice.

The anticipation already was there

"This just shows that we are building this team to go all the way this year," Bengals guard Bobbie Williams said. "That's all you can ask an organization to do. So bring on T.O.! I'm excited."

Adding the 36-year-old receiver who has a history of clashing with quarterbacks came as a surprise. The Bengals had a chance to sign Owens after a tryout in March, but they instead gave Antonio Bryant a four-year, $28 million deal to line up opposite Ochocinco.

With Owens still available on the eve of training camp, the Bengals made a move that will affect them in a lot of ways. One receiver will lose a job; other receivers will have fewer passes thrown their way; Ochocinco and Owens will be challenged to keep their egos in check.

It has the feel of a reality-TV show.

"Everybody's telling me I need to start one," receivers coach Mike Sheppard joked.

They already have enough of those.

Ochocinco's dating show on VH1 is winding down. His show is followed on the cable channel by "The T.O. Show." When they get together in the Bengals' locker room, the two friends will have to figure out how to turn their look-at-me style into a look-at-us season.

Nothing new for an organization that isn't afraid to give troublemakers another chance.

"We've been through a lot here," quarterback Carson Palmer said. "A lot of ups and downs, a lot of personalities, a lot of egos. He definitely is another personality. I had a chance to work with him. He's been very easy to work with, very coachable."

Palmer worked out with Owens in California over the last month and told coach Marvin Lewis that the receiver looked really good. The scouting report helped persuade the Bengals to make an offer. Owens receives a $2 million salary and a chance to make another $2 million in bonuses.

It will be a bargain if Owens can help revive a passing game that finished 26th in the NFL last season -- and do it without causing problems in the locker room.

"I don't think he's coming with no nonsense, no idiotacy -- how about that one?" Williams said, inventing a new term for something the Bengals know so well.

Bengals players are fully aware of Owens' run-ins with previous quarterbacks, but they aren't too worried about the possibility he could divide the team.

"Chad -- if he can't do it, I don't think nobody else can do it," receiver Andre Caldwell said. "Chad's enough. If Chad can't disrupt this team, I don't think T.O. can."

There are more immediate issues to settle.

Bryant got No. 81 -- Owens' number -- when he signed with the Bengals. But NFL Network analyst Warren Sapp said Wednesday on "NFL Total Access" that Bryant said he handed Owens the number for an undisclosed sum of money, some of which will go to a charity.

The coaches have to figure out how they're going to use Owens, who has been an outside receiver throughout his career. Bryant was expected to start opposite Ochocinco on the outside before Owens was signed. Bryant lined up at an inside slot position during offseason workouts, something he'd never done.

"I think he's adjusting," Sheppard said. "It's new to him. He's anxious to do it because he knows in our structure, a lot of catches come there. His being familiar with the inside is going to be helpful for us."

Ochocinco believes that's all secondary stuff.

"Y'all don't even understand what's going to happen this year," Ochocinco said, wearing a gray shirt that had "Hollywood" written across the front in bright green letters. "I think to myself: When's the last time you had two receivers on the same field of this caliber on the same team at the same time?

"This is going to be scary."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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