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WR Terrell Owens misses flight to Cincinnati, pushing back Bengals debut

Terrell Owens missed his flight but got his number.

When he finally makes it to town — a little late — he'll be wearing his familiar 81.

The Cincinnati Bengals' latest addition missed his overnight flight from the West Coast and had to take a later one on Thursday, delaying his debut at training camp.

The Bengals had planned on him arriving early in the day, taking his physical and signing his one-year contract while the rest of the team held its first workout. They scheduled an introductory news conference after the morning practice.

The news conference had to be rescheduled for after the evening session. Coach Marvin Lewis wasn't sure whether the 36-year-old receiver would arrive in time to work out.

On his Twitter account, Owens posted a note Wednesday night saying he was headed to see a movie. He didn't explain why he missed his flight on Thursday, but confirmed that his news conference had to be rescheduled.

"My Press conf about my "Decision" 2 take my talents 2 Cincy will b held 2nite after 7pm practice!!" he tweeted, playing off LeBron James' one-hour television show announcing his decision to leave Cleveland.

Owens also misspelled Cincinnati in one of his tweets and was quickly corrected by a follower.

"Okayyyyyy I got it now, 2 n's & 1 t! CINCINNATI!! LOL!" he tweeted.

He'll have to make a donation to keep his favorite uniform number.

Receiver Antonio Bryant got No. 81 when the Bengals chose him over Owens in the offseason, giving him a four-year deal. Bryant said after the morning practice that he had already talked to Owens and agreed to give up his number.

"I'm a realist," Bryant said. "I said, 'Hey, man, I'm not going to make no big spectacle about it. You've got a bigger legacy and a number than I do. I've been on several teams like you, but I've changed my number several times. You've had the same number. I don't need your money. At the end of the day, all I want you to do is take care of one of my little league programs in Miami. Send them a small donation and we'll go from there.'"

With Owens late in arriving, Bryant was a focus of the Bengals' first workout — for his knee, not his number.

He had surgery for torn cartilage in his left knee during training camp with Tampa Bay last year. He was limited to 39 catches for 600 yards and four touchdowns. The Bengals signed him to a $28 million deal, hoping he would provide another outside threat with Chad Ochocinco.

Bryant backed off workouts last month because the muscles around the left knee didn't feel strong enough, causing him to be cautious. He went through drills tentatively on Thursday, never running at full speed. He said he would sit out the evening practice to work on strengthening the leg.

"The only thing I'm struggling with right now is just being comfortable and mentally just putting (the left foot) down and doing what I want to do without thinking, 'Oh, I might feel pain,'" Bryant said. "That's my biggest hurdle right now."

Lewis insisted that Bryant's knee problem had nothing to do with the decision to sign Owens this week. Bryant isn't so sure.

"Maybe so," he said. "But it's a business and there's a purpose behind being here and that's winning championships, and right now we look pretty good on paper, I'll tell you that much.

"I'm a team player. It's all about having the best team. If I owned the team, I would definitely go after the best players if possible, especially with the situation they acquired him. I definitely would have went after the guy."

Running back Cedric Benson fully participated in the workout. Benson met last week with commissioner Roger Goodell about his offseason arrest in Texas on a charge of misdemeanor assault. Benson is accused of punching a bar employee, a charge he has denied.

Benson hasn't heard anything more from Goodell, who could discipline him.

"We had a good talk, a good session," Benson said. "I guess no news is good news."

NOTES: CB Leon Hall did conditioning instead of participating in practice. Hall said he slightly hurt his lower back during a recent workout. ... OT Andre Smith, the team's first-round pick last year, will concentrate on conditioning for the first few weeks of camp. Smith broke his left foot on Sept. 1 last year, limiting him to appearing in six games. ... TE Jermaine Gresham, the team's top pick this year, missed the first practice in a contract dispute. ... CB Adam "Pacman" Jones sometimes covered Ochocinco. After one play, Jones playfully slapped Ochocinco on the helmet and the receiver playfully slapped him back — but harder. Then, Ochocinco talked to him on the sideline. Later, when Jones successfully covered Ochocinco on a play, the receiver gave him a congratulatory high-five.