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Burris downgraded

10-30-02, 2:30 p.m.


The Texans make a lot of big pass plays and the Bengals have been giving up a lot. So the news isn't good for Cincinnati on cornerback Jeff Burris and his injured hamstring. At the moment, trainer Paul Sparling thinks he can only be used Sunday in an emergency, or, best case, is as the third corner. With Burris on the sidelines Sunday in the, second half, the Bengals allowed three Steve McNair scoring passes of at least 16 yards.

CHAT ROOM: Houston has a problem.

At least one Texan isn't pleased with how the Bengals guaranteed a win over them this Sunday in the moments following their seventh straight loss to open the season. But Bengals head coach Dick LeBeau and wide receiver Chad Johnson, chief architects of the call, didn't exactly back off even away from the heat of a post-game locker room.

"It's good, we need to be in that situation," said defensive end Justin Smith. "We need to be with our backs against the wall. We do with our record as it is. If (LeBeau) is going to do that, we're going to stand by him and hopefully come through for him."

But on the whole, it didn't provide much of a stir. Except around Johnson's locker.

LeBeau said at Wednesday's news conference, "we'll win in the near future," and that he wants his players thinking they will win. Johnson, the second-year player who has emerged as their top receiver, said, his "I guarantee it," line that gave the Teaxas problems is "that's what it should have caused. I was trying to fire them up a little bit."

Which is what he did. Houston's Gary Walker, who has tortured the Bengals as a member of the Titans and Jaguars, couldn't quite place

Johnson as he ripped the guarantee. On Wednesday, Johnson said he knows Walker because Bengals offensive coordinator Bob Bratkowski speaks highly of him.

"He said he and Seth Payne are two of the top defensive tackles (in the NFL) right now," Johnson said. "I'm going to let him know who I am after the game."

Smith said he didn't know anything about the guarantee until he arrived at work Wednesday. Quarterback Jon Kitna said no one was talking about it in the locker room. Middle linebacker Brian Simmons said every team thinks it's going to win the week before a game, and "it might jack them up, but it's not going to determine who wins the damn game."

"I'm sure it will. I'm sure it will," said right tackle Willie Anderson when asked if it will jack up the Texans. "We're not going to war with Iran. It's going to be an intense football game played by two teams trying to get over the hump. People say things in the course of the game. People go to war and say things over the course of a war. We're in a situation we're trying to get a win and they're trying to keep winning."

Johnson said none of the coaches or his teammates admonished him, which tells him they're with him. "But he did get some advice.

"What the vets have been telling me is to make sure I don't lose my focus wth the talking stuff," Johnsopn said. "Make sure I do my part, and to concentrate at what I'm doing and live up to what I said."

After making 19 of his team-leading 24 catches in the last three games, Johnson says he'll probably be a marked man Sunday: "I've been marked for the last games. Everybody taking shots at me. Just keep it coming."

Texans rookie quarterback David Carr recalled college foes making predictions, but not specifically. All he remembered is, "They didn't," pan out.

"Guys are conscious of the fact they haven't won a game and they're doing whatever they can to fire their gys up," Carr said. "We're trying to do the same thing. We might not make the comments in the paper. We're trying to win the game just like them."

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