CINCINNATI (AP) -With their two Pro Bowl receivers hurt, the Cincinnati Bengals brought back troubled receiver Chris Henry on Tuesday, a move that their coach had emphatically ruled out only a month earlier as inappropriate.
The signing helps the team but raises questions about its commitment to holding players accountable for their actions. Henry must serve a four-game suspension from the NFL - his third such punishment - before he can fully rejoin the team.
The move was stunning in light of Lewis' statement shortly before training camp opened that the team had permanently parted ways with the receiver, who has been arrested five times since he joined the Bengals. Henry had indicated he was interested in rejoining Cincinnati.
``I'm not interested,'' Lewis said at the team's annual preseason luncheon on July 22. ``I don't think it would be productive for our football team. You have to be a productive part to be an NFL player, and there's responsibilities to being an NFL player. It's a privilege, it's not a right. There's a lot that comes with being an NFL football player.''
The Bengals evidently feel differently after Pro Bowl receiver Chad Johnson sprained his left shoulder during a 27-10 preseason loss to Detroit on Sunday night, leaving his status uncertain. Pro Bowl receiver T.J. Houshmandzadeh has missed both preseason games with a hamstring injury as well.
The Bengals released Henry after he was accused of punching a college student and breaking his car window with a beer bottle in March. Bengals president Mike Brown also cut ties with Henry, saying he could no longer be with the team.
``His conduct can no longer be tolerated,'' Brown said at the time. ``The Bengals tried for an extended period of time to support Chris and his potentially bright career. We had hoped to guide him toward an appropriate standard of personal responsibility that this community would support and that would allow him to play in the NFL. ... But those efforts end today, as we move on with what is best for our team.''
The Bengals had no immediate comment on their decision to re-sign Henry, who was expected to practice with the team on Tuesday evening.
Henry was suspended by the league for two games in 2006 and for the first eight games of last season for repeatedly violating its conduct policies. He received the this season's suspension for the latest court case, which ended in a mistrial with the charges later dropped.
Henry took a physical Tuesday morning in Cincinnati and agreed to the contract.
``I'm just glad they're willing to let the past be the past and give him a chance,'' agent Marvin Frazier said. ``I just hope that the Cincinnati fans will give him the same type of chance.''
The Bengals had 10 players arrested over a 14-month span, one of the factors that prompted commissioner Roger Goodell to toughen the league's conduct policy. The Bengals then toughened their own stance, getting rid of troubled linebacker Odell Thurman and Henry in the offseason.
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