Bengals’ Odom hopes to play against Tennessee

Published 2:10 pm Thursday, September 11, 2008

CINCINNATI — Antwan Odom wants to make the Tennessee Titans wish he was still on their side.

The Cincinnati Bengals defensive end wants to play a bigger role Sunday against his former team, which let him go in the offseason. Odom agreed to a five-year, $29.5 million deal with the Bengals, who were among the NFL’s worst at getting to the quarterback last season.

‘‘It’s my former team, and I’m going to go out there and show them what they missed out on,’’ Odom said Wednesday. ‘‘It’s a lot of motivation. It’s just that you want to go out and show them you could have been a third-down guy, you could have been an every-down guy.’’

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The 6-foot-5, 274-pound Odom was known primarily as a pass rusher in Tennessee, where he was part of one of the best defensive lines in the league. He came to Cincinnati as a replacement for defensive end Justin Smith, who left as a free agent.

So far, his first season with the Bengals has been a disappointment.

Odom sprained his left foot during the first workout of training camp, forcing him to miss the preseason games. He played on third downs in a 17-10 loss at Baltimore on Sunday, with the coaches watching to see how much the foot could handle.

The Bengals got very little pressure on Ravens rookie quarterback Joe Flacco, who wasn’t sacked and was hardly hit. Flacco ran 38 yards for a touchdown on a broken play.

Having to miss most of training camp and get a limited number of plays in the opener was difficult for Odom.

‘‘It’s like five times the frustration,’’ he said. ‘‘People paid you money and want to see what you can do and make this team better, make this defense better, and you can’t do that,’’ he said. ‘‘Unfortunately, you go out the first day and bad luck hits you and you’re kind of messed up.’’

Odom had only one tackle in the opening loss at Baltimore, but gave indications he’s getting beyond the injury.

‘‘It was good for Antwan to get going,’’ coach Marvin Lewis said. ‘‘We saw some things of why we brought him in here. He was able to show he can rush the passer, and that’s a good thing. We’ll see this week where we stand on him, lean on him a little more.’’

They’ll need him for another reason. Frostee Rucker, a third-round draft pick in 2006, started at end against the Ravens and had six tackles, but is limited in practice this week because of a sore foot.

‘‘I thought Frostee played his best football he’s played here,’’ Lewis said. ‘‘I was very pleased when I watched the tape, and I hope he can continue to build upon that.

‘‘He hasn’t had a lot of snaps here because of his injuries and his conditioning and some other things he’s had to overcome.’’

Odom has no hard feelings over the Titans’ decision to let him go. At the same time, he’d like to make them wish they’d kept him.

‘‘It’s a business,’’ Odom said. ‘‘All the guys are still cool. It’s just they had to make a decision, and I wasn’t in it. I had to move on.’’

The Bengals made him the centerpiece of their offseason moves to upgrade one of the NFL’s worst defenses. They lost Smith as a free agent to San Francisco, and had a deal for Detroit defensive tackle Shaun Rogers fall apart at the last minute. They also came up empty in an attempt to acquire Jets defensive tackle Dewayne Robertson.

‘‘Antwan, when he is healthy, will live up to everyone’s expectations,’’ Titans coach Jeff Fisher said Wednesday in a conference call. ‘‘He is a very talented defensive player.’’

Lewis said there’s a chance he could start against the Titans.

‘‘Obviously it’s an important game for him,’’ Lewis said. ‘‘He’s playing against his old buddies, his old teammates, so that’s big.’’