T.O. not lost for words with Bills coming to town

New team. Same old, defiant, outspoken and, yes, playful Terrell

Owens.

Whether it was in Buffalo last year or now in Cincinnati, T.O.

had no difficulty talking about himself, Bills quarterbacks or

anything else Wednesday as the Bengals (2-7) prepare to host the

Bills (1-8) in Sunday’s ”battle of the worst,” as he put it.

Owens opened and closed a near 20-minute conference call with

Buffalo reporters by playfully saying, ”Go Bills.” In between, he

expressed no surprise that the Bills lost faith by cutting

quarterback Trent Edwards earlier this season; and offered a

message to anyone – including Buffalo’s first-year coach Chan

Gailey – who might have thought he hit the wall last season.

”No, T.O. doesn’t hit any walls,” Owens said when informed

that was one of Gailey’s concerns in not re-signing him. ”Trust

me, if there’s any walls in front or me, I’m going to find a way to

go through it, around it, or over it. There’s no just hitting the

wall.”

At 36, Owens’ production this season certainly speaks to the

contrary.

Nine games in, he ranks third in the NFL with 834 yards

receiving and is tied for fourth with seven touchdowns – numbers

surpassing the 829 yards and five scores he had in his one year

with the Bills.

Though disappointed in the Bengals’ record, Owens isn’t

surprised by his resurgence in a year he had to wait until July for

Cincinnati to sign him to a one-year contract.

”Teams passed up on me because of what I didn’t do so much in

Buffalo. Other than that, I can only do what I can do to prove a

lot of people wrong,” Owens said. ”If I’m put in the right

situation, I’m able to succeed and do some of the things that

people are seeing now that they feel is, I guess, eye-opening for

my age.”

Though he isn’t sure about his future with the Bengals beyond

this season, Owens can see himself continuing to play and produce

at 40. It was just like old times for Owens, who expressed similar

sentiments in Buffalo.

And it was no surprise that T.O. had an opinion on the Bills’

quarterbacking situation after Edwards, now a backup in

Jacksonville, was benched after two games and then released a week

later in favor of journeyman Ryan Fitzpatrick.

”I think it was just going to be a matter of time,” Owens

said. ”I was shocked at the beginning of the season that Trent was

still named the starter. I think that coaching staff kind of

recognized that he wasn’t, I guess, at the level that they needed

him to be.”

Owens has a personal bias, because he had his best games with

the Bills after Fitzpatrick took over in November. And that

included Owens enjoying a season-best 197 yards receiving in an

18-15 loss at Jacksonville. It was a game in which Fitzpatrick hit

him for a 98-yard touchdown pass, the longest in team history.

Edwards, by comparison, was the quarterback who failed to

complete a pass to Owens in a 27-7 loss to New Orleans on Sept. 27,

ending T.O.’s 185-game streak that was the third longest in NFL

history.

”I liked Fitz’s demeanor. I liked his confidence. He has that

type of, you know, swagger about him,” Owens said. ”I knew the

guy could play all along. I’m not surprised by any means. He’s

doing a great job.”

Fitzpatrick isn’t surprised by Owens’ production this season. As

a former backup in Cincinnati, Fitzpatrick also provided Bengals

starter Carson Palmer a few words of advice regarding T.O. last

summer.

”I told Carson, `You want this guy on your team because he can

play,”’ Fitzpatrick said. ”So they’re using him, I guess, like he

should be used, and throwing him the ball like crazy.”

Where Fitzpatrick drew the line was whether he would’ve

preferred Owens still be in Buffalo.

”I think everybody understood what it was. They brought him in

for a year and things didn’t work out the way everybody wanted them

to work out,” Fitzpatrick said before noting how well Steve

Johnson has filled Owens’ job as the No. 2 receiver. ”I’m not

disappointed I’m throwing to Steve instead of Terrell. I guess I

can say that.”

Gailey credited Owens for the season he’s enjoying, but

acknowledged the receiver’s age and production played into the

team’s decision to not re-sign him.

”You do reach the wall, and it’s a guess on when guys are going

to do that. And you have to make assumptions with the information

that you have at hand,” Gailey said. ”We didn’t know where (the

wall) was. We knew it was probably getting close. Obviously it

wasn’t. But we felt like it was getting close.”

Gailey also added he wanted to free up a spot to allow his

younger receivers to develop.