Chad's status delayed

11-16-01, 3:25 p.m. Updated:
11-16-01, 4:05 p.m.

BY GEOFF HOBSON

Bengals rookie wide receiver Chad Johnson may not play Sunday against the Titans after coach Dick LeBeau got another look at him during Friday's practice.

"If we were playing tomorrow, he probably wouldn't go," said LeBeau, leaning to a game-time decision. "I'm not going to rush him if he looks like he's not ready to go."

Johnson, the Bengals' fastest receiver, hasn't played since breaking his left collarbone against the Browns

But if he's able to play, LeBeau will use Johnson as the third receiver with starters Darnay Scott and Peter Warrick.

"Chad is getting better every day," LeBeau said. "We've got a lot of depth at that position. "

Every other Bengal besides left guard Matt O'Dwyer, who is out with a sprained knee, looks to be available.

In Tennessee Friday, Titans quarterback Steve McNair didn't practice for the third straight day with a severe bone bruise on his throwing thumb. He did some soft toss, but said he had pain when he took some snaps from Bruce Matthews. He's still saying he'll play and after going through the same dance about McNair's status last year, LeBeau doesn't doubt it.

"Get out the same CD and play it again," LeBeau said. "He'll play. I looked at that video (of Monday night's game in Tennessee) and I watched every ball he threw. At no time was there any velocity off his ball. He might have some discomfort. I'm not saying that, but there's nothing there to keep him from playing."

Safety Blaine Bishop (foot) will make the trip to Cincinnati, but the Titans don't expect him to play.

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