Pro Bowl receiver Chad Johnson didn't
participate in the Cincinnati Bengals' first practice of training
camp because his right ankle hasn't fully recovered from surgery.
Johnson spent time Monday rehabilitating the ankle, which was
surgically cleaned out last month. The ankle is still sore and he
runs with a pronounced limp. He warmed up with the team on the
field, then went into the trainer's room.
"I know he wanted to be out here," receiver T.J.
Houshmandzadeh said. "But what he's got going on right now with
his ankle is tough. But it will be cool. He'll get better and we'll
win some games."
Offensive coordinator Bob Bratkowski said Johnson is expected to
be ready for the start of the regular season.
"We knew when he came in to do his physical that he was not
quite where he needs to be," Bratkowski said. "He'll go through
certain phases of rehabilitation and conditioning and when they
feel he's at a point where he's strong enough and back to where he
can go full-speed, he'll be on the field."
The Bengals held their opening practice without top draft pick
Keith Rivers, a linebacker from Southern California who was
projected as a starter. Rivers, the ninth overall pick, is the
Bengals' last unsigned rookie.
The defense suffered a setback when Antwan Odom hurt his left
foot and rode off the field on a cart. The defensive end was taken
for tests to determine the severity of the injury. Odom was the
team's top defensive acquisition in the offseason, signing a
"They'll do some scans and so forth on his foot and see what it
is," coach Marvin Lewis said. "I have an idea what it is, but
we'll wait until we get some things confirmed."
The opening practice also represented a major change for the
franchise: Willie Anderson lined up at right tackle with the
The 33-year-old lineman is entering his 13th season, making him
the most tenured Bengals player. He had his first significant
injuries last season, when foot and knee problems limited him to
seven games. Anderson made the Pro Bowl in each of the four
Concerned about his leg problems, the Bengals have installed
Stacy Andrews as the starting right guard. Andrews filled in at
right tackle for 11 games last season.
Anderson initially balked at the demotion, but has accepted it
because he doesn't want to cause a rift.
"I've kind of changed my stance on that," Anderson said. "My
thing now is: I want Stacy to be the starting tackle. I'm not going
to fight it. I don't want it to be a competitive situation because
I'm 13 years in (the NFL) right now and I don't have the energy to
try to compete. I know that there are some things physically that
in training camp, I'm not going to be able to do full-speed all the
Anderson looked good in the opening practice, moving much better
than he did at any point last season. The Bengals plan to limit his
participation in practice to keep him healthy.
"With Willie's situation, it's not just an issue with one
practice and how did he look," Bratkowski said. "It's how over a
two-week period is he going to hold up? Time will be the only thing
that will tell that."
Lewis said Anderson has a chance to regain his starting job if
he stays healthy and plays at his customary level.
"A lot of places, you don't get that opportunity, but he's
earned the opportunity," Lewis said. "Willie, when healthy, has
been a great football player."