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Interest In Owens Could Largely Depend on Antonio Bryant's Knee

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A report surfaced Friday evening that the Bengals were close to signing wide receiver Terrell Owens. Actually, the word TMZ used was "imminent." The Enquirer's Joe Reedy debunked the report, citing two sources claiming it to be false. However, it would appear other reports are suggesting a marriage could eventually be forged. According to ESPN's Adam Schefter, Bengals quarterback Carson Palmer has reportedly been working out "regularly with Owens in California and has been highly impressed", even suggesting to Bengals management that Owens would be an asset. Chad Ochocinco is tearing up Twitter writing that Owens is coming to Cincinnati (no, you shouldn't always take what Chad says on Twitter on face value). Additionally Chris Mortensen wrote:

When I mentioned watch for Bengals & TO earlier, one factor to watch is Antonio Bryant, whose knee was still a problem this off-season.

Where there's smoke, there's fire. Right? While Bryant did rest the final day of minicamp, the story of Bryant's knee dates back last year. In early August, Bryant required surgery to repair a torn meniscus that knocked him out of the preseason. Early during the season, Bryant suffered a bone bruise in his knee; an injury unrelated to the torn meniscus causing just enough worry as to whether he'd play football again.

He suffered another setback on the surgically repaired knee during a flight back from London during Tampa Bay's 35-7 loss to the New England Patriots -- a game played in London's Wembley Stadium.

Bryant's knee injury limited his production in 2009 with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, recording only 39 receptions for 600 yards receiving and four touchdowns in 13 games played. There's been little reason to worry about Bryant's knee so far, "resting a sore knee" during the final practice of the team's minicamp in late June. However, knees are tricky things and when there's some worry about them, it's always a worry that you end up worrying about.

If the Bengals are that concerned about the knee, then it would make sense that they'd have renewed interest for Owens, who was the odd man out when the team signed Bryant to four-year deal in March. The question is, if Bryant's knee is still having problems from previous surgeries and injuries, what prompted the Bengals to sign him to the contract they did in the first place? They did see this as a potential problem. Right? Though we should point out the issue that's largely been reported at this point has been soreness in his knee and all Bryant could need for the time being is simply rest.

Again, through two sources, Reedy refuted Owens signing outright. Even though "the public evidence is glaring", in the end it's all talk, writes Mothership Captain Geoff Hobson.

Privately, the Bengals are saying they’re not looking to do it. They would prefer to give the shots to kids like Jerome Simpson and Dez Briscoe and not turn to a 36-year-old when they have a 32-year-old receiver on the other side.

Could it change? Sure. Go back to 2008 when they had no plans in July to re-sign Chris Henry in August. They didn’t know that Chad Ochocinco and Andre Caldwell would get hurt in a preseason game and be sidelined for a few weeks. Or that T.J. Houshmandzadeh wouldn’t practice all camp with a hamstring problem. And it turned out that Simpson was no match for a quick transition from Division II.

On the other hand, PFT writes "we're told that the process involving Owens' next team is something that will play out this week, and that the Bengals are in the mix." Whether or not it's Owens' people telling Mike Florio that the Bengals are in the mix without the Bengals saying that they are, is a totally different matter. All I know is that when stories will not die, they end up becoming true. Most recent example? Adam Jones.