Deltha, Deltha, Deltha. That's the feeling you get when Marvin Lewis calls out the Pro-Bowl cornerback. Concluding last season, Chick Ludwig and Brad Johanson made the observation that his head isn't in the game anymore. Reports surfaced, before the NFL draft, that the team was shopping O'Neal and almost found a suitor in Atlanta.
The hour came and went to see if O'Neal would be devoted or if he'd confirm what others are saying: that he doesn't really care. Granted, the camps this week are voluntarily. Perhaps it was too hopeful that we'd see a motivated O'Neal... now that his little lunch buddy Tory James has left. Perhaps we're reading into this a little too much. But that whole repair broken image, it seems, has come and gone.
"T.J.'s absence was not a surprise, but Deltha told me he would be here today, so ..." Lewis said after the Bengals practiced for almost two hours Tuesday.
"Obviously, in his case, (O'Neal) has an opportunity to re-start himself, and this is good work for him to put his best foot forward," Lewis said. "He is missing out on an opportunity to do that.
"We all have the same tape throughout the NFL. It's not just people in Cincinnati's opinion. You get the chance to right your ship, particularly for a defensive back, and today he missed out on some work that he shouldn't miss on. He just put himself further behind."
The whole thing even has Paul Daugherty miffed pointing out that it was "said O’Neal wanted his current five-year contract reworked after the 2005 season". Hummm... makes you wonder if '06 season was sabotage, doesn't it? OK, thinking too much. But it doesn't appear that O'Neal will get anything but a cold shoulder until he either changes his attitude or gets the hell out of dodge. From all indication, it's his choice. And it's looking like the latter.