During a conference call with Baltimore reporters, the ultra-productive wide receiver acknowledged that he isn’t sure if he’ll be back in Cincinnati next year and would be receptive to playing for the Ravens.
Enduring a disastrous 1-9-1 season, Houshmandzadeh is looking forward to becoming an unrestricted free agent during the offseason.
"Yeah, I’m open to everything because I figure I want to win," Houshmandzadeh said. "I think Cincinnati can win here, but it’s a tough situation. When you haven’t signed a contract up until that point, and it’s sad to think like this, but your own mindset tells you that you’re going to leave because you haven’t signed a deal."
Despite quarterback Carson Palmer being sidelined with an elbow injury, Houshmandzadeh ranks third in the NFL with 77 receptions for 746 yards and four touchdowns.
Last season, he caught a career-high 112 passes for 1,183 yards and 12 touchdowns after catching 90 passes for 1,081 yards and nine touchdowns in 2006.
He sounded Wednesday like he was lobbying for a job in Baltimore.
"Guys, I haven’t played a lot of football," said Houshmandzadeh, who was installed as a full-time starter in 2004. "Man, I played one year of high school football, I sat on the bench for three years here. This is really only my fifth year playing.
"My body is not beat up. I feel great. I’ve got plenty of years left to play and I just want to win and continue to play. That’s all I want to do."
If Houshmandzadeh makes it to the Pr o Bowl, he wouldn’t mind discussing a potential move to the Ravens with middle linebacker Ray Lewis.
"Hopefully, I’m fortunate enough to get to Hawaii because I know Ray will be there and we’ll talk about it," Houshmandzadeh said.
Although Houshmandzadeh is considered a possession receiver and averages just 9.7 yards per reception, which makes him perhaps too similar to veteran wideout Derrick Mason for the Ravens to sign him, he is reliable, tough and highly regarded in Baltimore.
"I respect Houshmandzadeh’s game," said Ed Reed, who was praised by Houshmandzadeh as the top free safety in the NFL. "He’s one of the best receivers in the league. I appreciate it, man, because I think it comes from guys who play with their heart and understand this game because it wouldn’t be a respect factor to him if I didn’t understand that he knows how to play the game."
INJURY REPORT: Offensive tackles Jared Gaither (right shoulder sprain) and Adam Terry (concussion) were limited in practice, but are expected to play Sunday.
"There are going to be some limitations with those guys and it will be day-to-day up until Sunday," Ravens coach John Harbaugh said. "Again, we want to make sure we don’t have any setbacks."
Defensive end Trevor Pryce’s outlook has improved after suffering a concussion on a helmet-to-helmet hit against the Philadelphia Eagles, passing a baseline test for neurological activity.
"Trevor, I’m not sure exactly where he’s at," Harbaugh said. "He seems like he’s okay. I don’t know if he’s woozy or not, but he seemed sharp this morning. I think he’s all right."
Tight end Todd Heap (illness) and wide receiver Terrance Copper (neck) didn’t practice.
Mason (dislocated left shoulder), offensive tackle Willie Anderson (foot/ankle), fullback Le’Ron McClain (thigh) and fullback Lorenzo Neal (thigh) were limited.
Defensive tackle Lamar Divens (shoulder) participated fully.
HONORED: Reed was named the NFL Defensive Player of the Week after intercepting two passes against Philadelphia.
He lost a yard off his NFL record 108-yard touchdown return after the Elias Sports Bureau reviewed the film and reduced it to a 107-yard return, topping his previous league record of 106 yards.
Reed acknowledged that he’s still bothered by a nerve impingement in his neck.
When asked whether he thought he would be able to finish the season, Reed replied: "I still wonder about that. My neck still has pain in it, and it’s still something I’m dealing with."
LONG FALL: After making the playoffs in 2005, the Bengals’ outlook was bright under former Ravens defensive coordinator Marvin Lewis’ leadership.
Since going 11-5 that season and losing to the Pittsburgh Steelers in the playoffs, Cincinnati has finished 8-8 and 7-9 before totally collapsing this year.
"We kind of got full of ourselves," said Ravens offensive tackle Willie Anderson, who was cut by Cincinnati in August. "We got full of ourselves and we let little things slide by. We had fought so long to get to that point. I think we stopped doing the little things.
"We stopped doing the things that made us a tough, physical football team. I think we became nonchalant. So, I know that’s priority No. 1 on Marvin’s list, to get back to that mindset in which he had us."
UNFAMILIAR: Most of the Ravens players admitted that they are unfamiliar with Bengals quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick, who has replaced Palmer with mixed results.
He has completed 61.5 percent of his throws for 1,218 yards for six touchdowns and seven interceptions. It’s assumed that he’s intelligent since he attended Harvard.
"He has thrown some picks, but he shows potential to have a good game," linebacker Terrell Suggs said. "The kid went to Harvard, so he’s pretty smart. You definitely have to worry about that."
Added Harbaugh: "Obviously, he’s a bright guy. But he can throw it and he’s a big, strong talented guy. He can run with the ball, too. He’s a threat to scramble out of the pocket, make throws on the run, so we think he’s a very dangerous quarterback."
QUICK HITS: Marvin Lewis reiterated why he punished Bengals wide receiver Chad "Ocho Cinco" Johnson for violating team rules by showing up late for a meeting and talking back to offensive coordinator Bob Bratkowski.. "I took Chad out of the mix," Lewis said. "Chad was a little bit late for a meeting, so I chose to deactivate him and kind of took him out of the mix. So, there’s really not much else to say." … The Bengals officially ruled out Palmer, defensive ends Robert Geathers (knee) and Frostee Rucker (hamstring) and offensive tackle Andrew Whitworth. Several players didn’t practice, including offensive tackle Levi Jones (back) and safety Chinedum Ndukwe. Houshmandzadeh (back) and defensive end Antwan Odom (shoulder) were limited. … Former Ravens majority owner Art Modell was named one of the 25 semifinalists for the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Aaron Wilson covers the Baltimore Ravens for the Carroll County Times and the Annapolis Capital.