CINCINNATI (AP) - The Bengals' self-described dynamic duo is down to one for the rest of the season, and even that might be pushing it.
Chad Ochocinco isn't going quietly, however. A bad left ankle is limiting the receiver, who didn't practice Wednesday and expects to have a reduced role in the last two games. The situation evidently rankled his head coach, who took a swipe at him during a conference call Wednesday.
"Well, he's being his mopey self," Lewis said. "Hopefully he can pull himself out of it and move forward. When things don't go Chad's way, this is kind of what happens."
Asked how he deals with it, Lewis said, "I don't deal with it. We just move on, all right? We'll put a new guy in there. If he's not ready to go on Sunday we'll have somebody in there ready to go, and go from there."
Ochocinco heard about Lewis' comments after practice and fired back on Twitter: "This is how they treat you when you hurt, the things you don't get to see as fans."
He was just getting started, fuming about his coach's words again in a subsequent tweet before adding in another post: "Did anyone get the license plate to the bus I was just threw under"?
Their season has been road kill for quite some time.
The Bengals (3-11) dropped 10 in a row, tying the franchise record for longest losing streak in a season. As things got bad, receiver Terrell Owens - the other half of the receiving duo - began questioning the coaching. Owens tore cartilage in his left knee two weeks ago, aggravated it during a slump-busting win over Cleveland on Sunday, and had surgery a day later.
That leaves Ochocinco to carry the passing game through closing weeks against San Diego (8-6) and Baltimore (10-4). He's not sure he's up to it. Ochocinco said he's got bone spurs in his left ankle, and a piece broke loose before becoming lodged in one spot. He said he'll have surgery in the offseason.
"I'm messed up bad right now," he said, after eating a bowl of microwaved oatmeal during a break between practices. "My ankle's killing me."
Before hearing about his coach's comments, Ochocinco was in good spirits, joking he would be back next season because he's bought half of the team. The Bengals have a contract option for one more year at $6 million, a hefty price for a receiver who has 67 catches for 831 yards and four touchdowns.
The 37-year-old Owens came to Cincinnati on a one-year deal, so he, too, will be a free agent. They described themselves as Batman and Robin when they teamed up for the first time in training camp. They also launched their "T.Ocho Show" on the Versus cable network, giving themselves a platform to talk about whatever they wished through Feb. 1. Ochocinco knows the Bengals probably won't renew the duo for a second season. He expects major changes in the organization.
The first probably will involve Lewis, who turned down an extension last year and is finishing off the final season on his contract. He would like one more chance to try to get it right.
"You would think with what we have here, to try it one more time - I don't think it would fail twice, you know?" Ochocinco said. "You would think (there's) too much talent. I don't know, man."
(Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)