Updated: 10:10 p.m.
Running back DeDe Dorsey suffered such a serious groin injury Thursday morning that there is speculation he'll be shelved for as long as three months. He left the stadium on crutches and at the very least his status for the start of training camp is in doubt.
Dorsey has been one of the bright lights of the offseason after averaging 8.7 yards per 21 carries last season.
Can the Bengals ever shake the running back injury bug? Kenny Irons (ACL) isn't working in the mandatory and there's no word if he'll be ready for training camp. The best guess is he misses the first six games of the season on the PUP list.
PARENTAL CONTROLS: T.J. Houshmandzadeh led the NFL in catches last season and now he leads the league in Chad Johnson questions.
He insists he's not Johnson's spokesman but that didn't stop Thursday's media horde from descending on his locker and asking him to psychoanalyze his closest friend on the team.
"I'm not in his mind," Houshmandzadeh said during the break between practices.
But he called it right when asked what might happen when training camp opens July 27.
"There (are) only two things that can happen; it's not that complicated. It works out and everybody is happy. Or it doesn't work out and someone isn't happy and someone else is."
He's not ready to say that Johnson's unhappiness is going to blow up locker room chemistry, but he admits, "It's too early to tell."
Like Johnson, Houshmandzadeh missed all the voluntaries. Unlike Johnson, Houshmandzadeh worked on Thursday and stepped into the first receiver group despite showing some rust.
The man who is always among the leaders in fewest dropped passes in the league every year, dropped one early in the morning workout on a short one a few yards from the flat.
"I didn't create as much separation as I should have," Houshmandzadeh said. "I've got to get my legs under me. I'll go to work right now."
But that may have meant the film room.
"T.J.'s been working out at home and hasn't been running routes against defenders," said quarterback Carson Palmer. "He's a little rusty, but he's the kind of guy that looks at film between practices and makes adjustments."
It was hard for head coach Marvin Lewis to come down on Houshmandzadeh for not being here the past month.
Think he might have been sluggish in the words of offensive coordinator Bob Bratkowski?
Houshmandzadeh, who grew up never knowing his father, took the red eye flight from Los Angeles and arrived at Paul Brown Stadium around 6:30 a.m. Thursday.
"It was either that or get in (late) this afternoon," said Houshmandzadeh, who stayed for one of his little daughter's graduations.
"He's been a great dad and that's important to him," Lewis said. "We wish he was here throughout, but he's taking care of some good business. We always ask for guys to step up and be better fathers and a lot of people when we get here to the NFL, unfortunately, don't have parents like that. What he's doing is very good."
On new defense coordinator Mike Zimmer's philosophy: "Bend but don't break. Don't give up any big plays. He'll give you an eight-yard completion here and a 10-yard completion there, but he's not going to let you throw it over his head. We've struggled to do that. It makes us, offensively, more patient and not be as greedy. It's helped a lot too, just knowing they're not going to give us many opportunities for deep balls down the field. In the running game, he wants to stuff everything in the backfield. It's good to see that."
On the two highly drafted receivers: "Jerome (Simpson) is very athletic, great hands. He's a little ways away from being in the heat of the fire. Tremendous upside. Andre Caldwell can start right now and play right now. He doesn't get nervous with all the media ... he looks like a vet and that he's done it before."
On new tight end Ben Utecht: "He was frustrated he didn't learn the offense on the first day. ... That shows me he's the kind of guy I can have confidence in."
On practice squad grad wide receiver Marcus Maxwell: "He's turned some heads. ... You're so used to seeing (No.) 85 over there on the single receiver (side) and there is (No.) 10. He's created separation, he's caught the ball strong, he's run the right routes at the right depth. He's doing everything we've asked. He's done a great job with his hots and (pass) protection. He's got a way to go, but he's one of these guys who wants to learn."
On running back Rudi Johnson: "Rudi's looked as good as he's looked since I've been here. He's put on weight but somehow he's gotten quicker and faster. He's worked tremendously hard on his play-action stuff and he and I have been really trying to work on that. His hands seem to get better and better each year. You look at Rudi and you know the potential that is there. He's been to the Pro Bowl, had (1,400) yard seasons and I expect him to have a bigger year than that."
On playing with backup quarterback Jordan Palmer, his brother: "I want him to do well. I also want him to throw an incomplete pass. He's the fourth quarterback so as soon as the ball hits the ground, the next quarterback comes up. I get the next rep. I'm kind of torn wanting to see him do well and me getting more reps. It's going to be a battle at training camp. We've got a lot of good guys at the position. Let's see what happens."