Bengals excited about Owens

Updated: July 31, 2010, 1:26 AM ET
ESPN.com news services

GEORGETOWN, Ky. -- A flamboyant Cincinnati Bengals 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.

Terrell Owens was headed to the area Wednesday while his teammates-to-be tucked pillows and sound systems under their arms, unpacking for the start of training camp at Georgetown College. Owens wasn't expected to arrive until a day later.

The anticipation was already there.

"This just shows that we are building this team to go all the way this year," offensive guard Bobbie Williams said. "That's all you can ask an organization to do. So bring on TO! I'm excited."

The Bengals announced Wednesday that Owens was expected to arrive Thursday to sign his contract and should participate in his first practice with the team on Thursday night.

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 him after a tryout in March, but gave Antonio Bryant a four-year deal instead 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 get 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 have enough of those already.

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 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 he looked really good. The scouting report helped persuade the Bengals to make an offer. Owens gets a $2 million salary and a chance to make another $2 million in bonuses.

Owens could earn $333,000 each for passing the following milestones: 60 catches, 100 catches, 900 receiving yards, 1,300 receiving yards, 10 touchdowns and 14 touchdowns, a league source told ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter.

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 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 TO can."

There are more immediate issues to settle.

Bryant got No. 81 -- Owens' number -- when he signed with the Bengals. He could give the number to the newcomer, or keep it for himself.

"Usually when a player comes from another team, he offers money to that player to have that jersey number," Ochocinco said. "I'm not sure how that's going to work. TO and Antonio will work that situation out. The number doesn't make the man, the man makes the number. This is a fresh start for TO. Maybe he'll want to go for something new."

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 thinks 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."

Meanwhile, first-round draft pick Jermaine Gresham remains unsigned as the Cincinnati Bengals open training camp.

The Bengals signed second-round pick Carlos Dunlap, a defensive end from Florida, and receiver Jordan Shipley, a third-round choice from Texas, shortly after the rest of the team reported Wednesday.

That left Gresham, a tight end from Oklahoma, as the Bengals' only unsigned pick.

Last year, the Bengals got into an impasse with first-round pick Andre Smith. The offensive tackle didn't sign until Aug. 30, missing the first three preseason games. He broke his left foot two days later. Smith ended up playing in six games, starting one of them.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

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