Updated: 3:15 p.m.
The proverbial good news and bad news transpired Wednesday at Paul Brown Stadium when the Bengals learned wide receiver Chad Johnson had been named AFC Offensive Player of the Week on a day running back Chris Perry's season was cut short for the third time in four seasons by injury.
Hard to believe, but it was Johnson's first time receiving the award despite four Pro Bowls and four AFC yardage titles.
He had a career-high 12 receptions against Tennessee in Sunday's 35-6 victory over the Titans for 103 yards and three touchdowns.
"I just wasn't ready to get back in there. I wasn't at '05 and I think that's what they were looking for," Perry said after the Bengals announced he was staying on the physically unable to perform list for the rest of the year.
"There would have been some teams that would have tried to rush me back and I'm glad they didn't do it," he said.
Perry seemed almost relieved. He's excited that he can now say for sure that he'll be on the field in May for the spring camps. Not since the Bengals drafted him in 2004 has he been able to say that. No one knows if he'll be near his 2005 form (4.6 yards per his 61 carries and 51 catches), but he says people are going to have to include him in the team's plans.
"They'd be crazy if they didn't," said Perry, who has two years left on his contract. "I'm going to be straight in '08. I'm excited about being out there in May right away. I haven't been able to say that since I got drafted. You'll see. I'll be back (where I was in '05)."
MUD SLINGING: Like James Farrior's defense needs any help. The Steelers lead the NFL in scoring defense at 13.2 points per game and fewest average yards allowed at 229 and now they are looking at hosting the Bengals on Sunday in an offensive quagmire that could be Heinz Field.
"We've stil got the dryers out," said Farrior, the Steelers Pro Bowl middle backer in Wednesday's conference call with the Cincinnati media.
Farrior, still sopping from the 3-0 win over the Dolphins Monday night in a mud bowl, said it was the worst conditions he's ever played in.
"When they put the new sod in over the new field, it just made it a deep mulch, a big pile of mush," Farrior said. "You really couldn't get your feet in the ground. ... I probably fell down about 20 times.
"There was nothing you could really do about it. It was the same for both teams. Nobody really had an advantage."
The Steelers aren't re-sodding the field and are hoping it will dry out. But like Farrior said, "If it rains, who knows what's going to happen?"
During the opening moments of practice Wednesday, sure-footed, rock-solid tight end Reggie Kelly slipped and fell on the Bengals' grass practice field. Hey, it's nearly December and what's left of the grass is cold and wet.
"The field we practice on every day is slippery," Palmer said. "The turf comes up just as bad on our grass field as it does anywhere else I've played. We're used to it."
Palmer isn't worried about himself, but he does wonder about his receivers and he's not sure he buys the theory that receivers have the advantage in such miserable conditions.
"The guy you worry about are receivers and DBs slipping and sliding running full speed and then stopping and cutting in one direction," Palmer said. "There are different thoughts. Some people think that if the DB doesn't know when he's breaking and the receiver then the receiver has the advantage. I just think it's who's more used to practicing in those circumstances ... we should be fine."
Bengals equipment manager Rob "Rex" Recker is calmly going about his usual routine, although he thinks his request to the NFL for one-inch cleats will be turned down. The standard screw-in cleat is a half-inch long with the longest allowed three-quarters of an inch. Look for the longest one possible Sunday.
"The toughest thing is we won't be able to get on the field until Sunday morning and so we won't know untl then," he said.
"Which might have been a good thing," Houshmandzadeh said after Wednesday's practice as he reflected on Taylor's death by gunshot.
"That's over with. It's irrelevant. It happened years ago," Houshmandzadeh said. "If I had seen him I probably would have said something. It really doesn't matter in the big scheme of things. What he did to me doesn't compare what someone did to him."
Houshmandzadeh felt badly for those close to Taylor.
"Everybody in his family and everybody that loved him will ask the question, 'Why,' and you might never know," he said. "It's a terrible situation ... what happened speaks for itself. It's unfortunate. Now his little girl has to grow up without a father."
Head coach Marvin Lewis raised the issue in the team meeting and quarterback Carson Palmer said Lewis reminded his players to always be aware of their surroundings.
Chad Johnson, a friend of Taylor's via the Miami connection, didn't meet with the media Wednesday.
Houshmandzadeh (back) and cornerback Deltha O'Neal (knee) weren't at practice early but they have played in games despite missing practice time.
The two casualties from Sunday, linebacker Landon Johnson (12 stitches in his arm) and safety Dexter Jackson (wrist) were dressed. Johnson wasn't listed on the injury report and Jackson practiced full. So did defensive tackle John Thornton (knee) and safety Chinedum Ndukwe (Achilles).
For the Steelers, several starters that are questionable didn't practice Wednesday: wide receiver Santonio Holmes (ankle), safety Troy Polamalu (knee), left tackle Marvel Smith (back), wide receiver Hines Ward (coach's decision), and running back Dan Kreider (knee).
Palmer, hoping to repeat last week's praise of Titans defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth that got him deactivated, said the same thing about old USC housemate Troy Polamalu, the Steelers Pro Bowl safety.
"You hope Troy's not playing," Palmer said, "I want to win, and we have a better chance of winning when Troy's not on the field."