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Friday links/notes; Is Houshmandzadeh blaming coaches?

+ We just can't stop talking about Houshmandzadeh. Three factors could go into the decision of not franchise T.J. Houshmandzadeh. I believe that the Cincinnati Bengals could afford to franchise him but a few quick notes. For one, the Bengals haven't exactly seen a return in their last two investments (Justin Smith, Stacy Andrews); that could shy them away from doing so. It would also suggest that the Bengals were wrong to draft three wide receivers in last year's NFL draft preparing for Houshmandzadeh's (and potentially Chad Johnson) departure. Including the guaranteed $9.88 million, there seems to be more Mike Brown logic that would figure as the outcome of not using the franchise tag.

However, Joe Reedy, who I think is doing a wonderful job as the newest beat writer for the Cincinnati Enquirer, got some quotes from Houshmandzadeh, which includes a claim that Houshmandzadeh hasn't been contacted by the team.

It's this quote that really struck me.  “To me I don’t see the playbook as much of a problem as guys not getting the job done. Coach Lewis knows who to blame whether it is the players or a coach. The players go out and play but coaching is relating to the players. Most coaches know the X’s and O’s but they have to trust the players. Right now the trust and belief is not there,” Houshmandzadeh said. “I can’t speak for everyone, but when you’re losing games there are going to be a lot of questions.”

Maybe this is sabotage time, burning the Brent Spence by the time he would make his journey back. Or he's speaking absolute truths and that Bob Bratkowski isn't giving Houshmandzadeh the opportunities that he believes he deserves -- specifically, being a deep threat.

Houshmandzadeh doesn't think being tagged helps the team (of course he's going to say that).

+ If Connor Barwin is available past the third round. Scouts, Inc. lists UC defensive end Conner Barwin as the sixth best Outside Linebacker. We only bring this up for our saturating UC Bearcats love, and we wonder since Marvin Lewis coached Barwin at the senior bowl as well as watching him while in the same town, that maybe the Bengals could pick him IF he's around in the third round and the Bengals secure at least one NFL-ready center -- first round is up in the air while still leaning towards an offensive tackle.

+ Now that's just crazy. Stacy Andrews is challenging Stats, Inc. number that he allowed 9.5 sacks saying "that's crazy." Admittedly, we were surprised by it when we first saw it; however, Stats, Inc. lists that as his sacks allowed and that's the number that we have to go by.

+ So what if... It's very clear that the Bengals want to re-sign Cedric Benson, and Benson wants to give the Bengals every chance to do that. However, there's always the possibility that he could leave, which would cause a slight panic because the position would be incredibly malnourished. So the NFL draft then gets re-prioritized, free agency becomes interesting and then there's the prevailing thought that perhaps Larry Johnson could use a change scenery. We're not suggesting that the Bengals will, or should, go after Johnson who's had legality issues and the common belief that he's just not that good anymore. Furthermore, we don't see the Bengals trading for any player. Still, it's an interesting thought.

More, more, more.

A feature on Paul Alexander.

A mock draft that has Bengals tacking defensive tackle B.J. Raji from BC.

Todd McShay has the Bengals picking up Andre Smith, while Mel Kiper has the Bengals drafting Jason Smith; both offensive tackles.

John Thornton discusses the franchise tag from a player's perspective.

Mocking the Draft profiles the Bengals.

A Baltimore Ravens team without Ray Lewis would be hard to imagine.

Speaking of Franchise players, the Patriots made the first move franchising Matt Cassel.

Finally, I'm nearly half way through season three of Heroes. The character Sylar is the best villain on Television that I've seen in a long time. If you have a comic book edge about yourself, then this show is 100% for you. In the past 2-3 years, I've had this addiction with television shows. First, it was The Wire, then the Sopranos, Deadwood, Fringe, Lost and now Heroes. The production of these shows are as good as any movie out there. The cast is good and the storylines are crushing anything that movies are putting out.