Updated: 8 p.m.
For the second straight day, Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis refuted an ESPN report that the club would consider trading wide receiver Chad Johnson at the end of the season.
Although Johnson said he wouldn't be surprised if he was traded, Lewis first denied the report after Sunday's postgame news conference and then at Monday's news conference. He cited himself as the team's only voice and that the report didn't come from him.
"I don't think there are any sources inside this organization," Lewis said.
As he left Monday's team meeting, Johnson seemed to think there was truth to the report by saying, "There's always truth in anything that's said. There's always some truth to it. They probably wouldn't discuss (a trade) in the middle of the season."
Here are three reasons why it's believed the Bengals have no interest in trading him and have had no organization-wide discussion about the topic: They consider Johnson one of the best players in the NFL, Chris Henry's off-field situation is too precarious to make him one of the two starters, and the salary cap hit would be too massive for a deal that runs through 2011.
On Monday Lewis called Johnson "a team player," and praised his blocking as well as his adjustment to coverages that dictate the ball be spread to other receivers.
"He knows that in order for him to have the success he's having, we need to be able to do other things correctly," Lewis said. "The biggest thing we continue to try to impress upon our guys, whether it is Rudi, whether it is T.J., whether it is Chad, whether it is Carson, is that the opportunities we want come from making first downs.
"If we don't convert on third down, I've told them, none of you are getting any shots at anything. It's a football team. So we're not going to win, we're not going to have opportunities for plays, touchdowns, catches, runs and so forth, unless we do better on third down. And yesterday was a first step in that direction."
Johnson called his approach in which he gained 102 yards despite having just three catches "unselfish," and said he and Houshmandzadeh were patient against a Jets defense that double-teamed both and held them to their lowest total of the season with seven combined catches.
Johnson's relationship with Lewis has been called into question and how it may have fostered a divisive locker room. For years there has been grumbling from pundits (never players on the record) that Lewis lets Johnson get away with "Chad Rules."
"There are 31 teams besides us. Every player and every coach loves '85,' I guarantee that," Johnson said. "Everyone. Every coach and every player would love to have '85' on their team. They know what I bring to the table."
Asked if Lewis likes him, he said, "Yeah. But they have to do what they have to do. Chad has to do what Chad has to do."
But asked if he's happy here, Johnson said, "Of course; I'm smiling. As long as I'm smiling I'm happy."
So the odd little saga continues without Johnson demanding a trade or the Bengals seeking one. But it now has Johnson in the third person.
"I can not perform at a high level and not be Chad," he said. "It's impossible. I will not change."
But he quickly went to the first person when his biographer, Paul Daugherty, a Cincinnati Enquirer sports columnist, pushed the theory in Sunday's column that Johnson's selfish ways have hurt the team.
"To think someone who actually had a year to deal with me and write my book, going home and spending time with my grandma," Johnson said, "understanding my background, understanding where I came from, understanding knowing the ins and outs and knowing all the struggles I've been through to get to this point and write what he wrote yesterday, you've got to be kidding me. You've got to be kidding me. You've got to be kidding me."
Which is where a lot of people may be right about now with this odd little saga of "As Chad Turns."