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Quick Hits: Chad Greets Bengals Rookies And Finds The Ocho Generation; Peerless Peerman Returns

Chad Johnson (left) and WR Jermaine Burton during OTAs at the Kettering Health Practice Fields on Thursday, May 30, 2024 in Cincinnati, Ohio,
Chad Johnson (left) and WR Jermaine Burton during OTAs at the Kettering Health Practice Fields on Thursday, May 30, 2024 in Cincinnati, Ohio,

From Alabama wide receiver Jermaine Burton to TCU cornerback Josh Newton, the Bengals rookies who make up The Ocho Generation gravitated to Chad Johnson during his visit to OTAs Thursday.

Erick All, the Iowa tight end who grew up Cincinnati in the northern suburb of Fairfield, didn't meet him because he chose not to interrupt The Ocho's conversation with quarterback Joe Burrow. But he was content to later invoke his Instagram caption of "Child Please. Kiss The Baby," Johnson's calling card quotes and proof of All's membership in the Ocho Generation.

"I followed the Cowboys, but I loved watching Chad and I followed the home team, too," All said.

It took about a week after the Bengals drafted Newton in the fifth round last month, but Chad "Ochocinco," Johnson found him on Twitter and began issuing his challenges to his new Bengals' comrades.

So when Johnson barged into the cornerbacks huddle Thursday asking who wanted to take some releases, Newton jumped up.

"Ocho being Ocho," Newton said. "He already called me out. He couldn't be looking for me again."

Finally, Newton got to shake his hand, after trash-talking introductions. Like everyone else, Johnson came away impressed with Newton as they pressed together on an imaginary line, the rookie trying to outfox the Bengals' all-time leading receiver.

It will be recalled that's the space where Johnson made his six Pro Bowls, a feathery middleweight disappearing at scrimmage before appearing in the secondary and now in the Bengals Ring of Honor.

Apparently, Newton was able to do what so many couldn't and was able to get his hands on Johnson with hand thrusts they call "stabs," disrupting his route.

Bengals Legend Chad Johnson stopped by OTAs on Thursday, May 30, 2024.

"Obviously the body is not the same anymore," said the 46-year-old Johnson with a salute to Newton. "What year is this? Those were my first releases like that since 2010. That was my go-to, man-to-man. Please. Please."

It turns out Newton was an 11-year-old in Monroe, La., watching Chad Johnson's workouts on YouTube during the NFL Lockout that next season in 2011.

"I think he's a Hall of Fame caliber receiver," said Newton, nodding to Johnson.

"I put my jacket on," said Johnson of the homemade gold jacket he donned in one of his touchdown celebrations.

"Matter of fact," said Newton, pointing across the street, "you put it on in that stadium, right?"

"What can you say?" Johnsons said.

What you can say is that Newton is one of those rare people who met a giant from his childhood and isn't disappointed.

"I used to play receiver. I was always looking at his workout videos. The ladders. The cones," Newton said. "Everything is everything with him. What you see on TV is what you get in person. You don't get too many people like that. Be yourself. Very entertaining."

Johnson got a good look at Burton, the third-round receiver trained by his Bengals running mate T.J. Houshmandzadeh, and gave him the thumbs-up.

"Nice. He's a speedster. But that's only half of it," said Johnson after he spent some of the individual drills trying to strip the ball from him. "In a structured environment like this, I'm not going to say anything to him. I met him over at the hotel last night."

Somehow in the locker room Thursday, Burton got a hold of a Johnson 85 jersey (or maybe it was an Ocho) and he was looking for a pen so he could get it signed.

"I'm going to put this up on the wall," said Burton, rolling it up for his book bag, mission accomplished.

Here's Johnson's advice for a wide receiver from the Ocho Generation:

"Lock in. This is your everything. This is your wife. This is your girlfriend. Everything. My first two years, I lived here. Ate it. Slept it. I submerged myself in it and eventually because of all the hard work, the results paid off year in and year out."

PEERLESS PEERMAN: Another blast from the past, former running back Cedric Peerman, is at practice this week and next as a participant in the Bill Walsh Diversity Coaching Fellowship. Talk about timing. Peerman is the only Bengals special teamer to ever play in a Pro Bowl as a non-kicker and he gets an up- close look as they implement the NFL's new kickoff rule.

But that's going to wait. He's studied defense this week and next week he's going back over to the offensive meetings, where he sat for eight seasons and 90 games as a Bengal from 2010-2017. He was on injured reserve that last season, but remembers a young offensive quality control coach in his second year. Dan Pitcher is now in his first year as head coach Zac Taylor's offensive coordinator.

"I'm very happy for him. He's worked his way up and deserves it," said Peerman after practice and before heading to the film room to spend some time with quarterbacks coach Brad Kragthorpe. "I spent as much time as I could this week with the safeties and watching the quarterback from their eyes and what makes them react. It's always been a passing league."

Peerman, 37, is drawn to coaching for the same reason he became the Bengals' most prolific special teams tackler since they moved the kickoff up to the 35 in that same lockout season of 2011.

"Competition. After playing, coaching is the one place I can get that," Peerman said.

After he retired seven years ago, Peerman coached across the river at Dayton High School in Kentucky before his family moved to Chapel Hill, N.C. That's where his wife, Dr. Hagar Peerman, is in the final year of her residency at the University of North Carolina as a sports medicine specialist and where he's continued to coach on the high school level. The couple now has five children and he believes the life of an NFL coach allows for a schedule better suited to family.

And he's using his Bengals coaches as role models, ranging from his first running backs coach, Jim Anderson, to the only head coach he had here, Marvin Lewis. He's particularly dialed into Darrin Simmons, his special teams coordinator who is still here, and he's taken some notes from another offensive coordinator, Hue Jackson.

"I got that attention to detail from Darrin. And he's the same every day. There's no up and down and he treats everyone the same. I think I get that kind of approach from him," Peerman said. "Coach Hue stayed on us and never let his foot off the gas pedal. But at the same time, the guys really responded well to him."

NEW LOOK: Peerman, known as one of the NFL's top cover players in the kicking game during his heyday, thinks there's a Bengal out there who is going to get a 20-tackle season now that the kickoff is back. His 17 tackles in his Pro Bowl season of 2015 are the most they've had since 2011. Before that, when they kicked off from the 30, Simmons had two 20-tackle guys with Reggie Myles (23) in 2004 and Kyries Hebert (21) in 2008.

He can see bigger players becoming more of a factor and recalls his teammate, defensive lineman Margus Hunt.

"That's a big guy running down," said Peerman. "And now the area is so confined. You really have to make sure your safeties are lined up and the ball doesn't get past you."

ANOTHER NEW LOOK: Peerman spanned the Bengals lead backs of Cedric Benson (5-11, 227), BenJarvus Green-Ellis (5-11, 215), Jeremy Hill (6-1, 230), and Joe Mixon (6-2, 225). This week he glimpsed Chase Brown (5-9, 205) and Zack Moss (5-9, 205).

"It's a different approach. I imagine it will be by committee more or less," Peerman said. "Both guys can catch it out of the backfield and I was impressed with Chase last year. He did a good job on special teams and he's quick. I think Coach Taylor and Coach Pitcher are going to make it work well. It's a different approach, but you can get the same goal. Which is winning."

SLANTS AND SCREENS: The Ocho is in town to play soccer with a team of former FC Cincinnati players. When an Evan McPherson field goal sailed at him, his first inclination wasn't to settle under it and catch it, but to let it bounce so he could trap it with his feet.

"Touch," he exclaimed as he explained he had trash-talked McPherson earlier. "I've got the biggest leg here. I'm ready to hit from 70." …

Johnson has plans for the next Super Bowl in the Big Easy, where he knows Burrow and Bengals wide receiver Ja’Marr Chase teamed up to win a national college title.

"I'm meeting Joe and Ja'Marr in New Orleans," Johnson said. "(The Bengals) have the makeup, the DNA. Some teams are constructed just for that. This is our time. This our window." ….