Chad back, working but not talking Print
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Thursday, 07 August 2008 23:15
NFL Headline News

 GEORGETOWN, Ky. (AP) -About the time Brett Favre retired from football this spring, Chad Johnson was claiming he'd never play for the Cincinnati Bengals again.
Both are back for another season, and only Favre has a new team.
Johnson, a five-time Pro Bowl wide receiver who holds Bengals records for most catches and yards, believed he was taking too much criticism for the team's disappointing 7-9 season.
He let it be known that he thought he and the Bengals needed to part ways.
That didn't happen, and as the Bengals go through their second week of training camp workouts, it is hard to tell that any discontent ever existed.
That is, other than the silence Johnson keeps with hometown media.
Johnson was held out of practice the first week of camp as he continued to recover from arthroscopic surgery in June on his right ankle, but started practicing at full speed this week.
If there are any signs of lingering resentment from teammates or coaches, they are well hidden. Fans still wear his No. 85 jersey and call out his name for autographs, and Johnson has obliged.
``I think the players, as are most of us, are forgiving and want to see the good in people, so I think that's how he approached it and that's how we accepted it,'' wide receivers coach Mike Sheppard said. ``I don't think it took our team very long to take him back.''
During one practice, Johnson ran a 12-yard comeback route, stopped and turned suddenly to catch a pass from Carson Palmer. A couple of plays later, Johnson beat a defender off of the line of scrimmage and ran by him down the sideline.
He clapped his hands when the ball didn't come his way and he believed he was open; Johnson always believes he is open.
``With Chad, you always know what you're going to get on the field, not just on Sundays but also in the work week,'' said cornerback Leon Hall, the team's top draft pick in 2007. ``He works hard. That's just how he is and I think it's good for the team. Obviously he's a great talent for the offense and we need him here.''
Johnson broke his own club record for yards receiving in a season last year by catching 93 passes for 1,440 yards and eight touchdowns.
During the offseason, Johnson decided not to attend the voluntary conditioning program and on-field workouts for the first time in his eight-year career. His only visit to Paul Brown Stadium was for the mandatory three-day minicamp in June.
``I don't care who you are in this game, it's going to take you a while to get back,'' offensive coordinator Bob Bratkowski said. ``He's coming back quickly, but he certainly still has a long ways to go to get to where he wants to be.''
Despite all the distractions during the offseason, Bratkowski maintained contact with Johnson.
``I talked with him roughly once a week in the offseason and I know that when it comes time to play football, he loves to do that and he'll want to be the best he can be,'' Bratkowski said.
``Does that mean we won't have some rocky road ahead? He's an emotional person, but I think he's here to do a job and do it well.''
Johnson still is not talking to beat reporters, a practice he started last year. But teammates and coaches talk for him.
``When he does things right, his productivity is second to none in the league. When he lets his focus slip, it hurts us because one of our best players is underperforming,'' Bratkowski said. ``It's like any team when one of your best performers is underperforming; it has an effect on everyone else. And when one of your best players is playing well, it raises everybody else.''
 

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