Chad taking notes

2-5-04, 7:05 a.m.

BY GEOFF HOBSON

Chad Johnson doesn't want to bother Marvin Harrison. Not about football. Not now. Not at the Pro Bowl.

"It's a vacation. We talk about other things, I want to let the guy rest about football," Johnson said Tuesday from Hawaii. "But I'm watching. It's hard because we're in at the same time, but I'm taking notes."

Harrison, the Colts wide receiver who has set the standard in the AFC the past several years, watched Johnson lead the conference in receiving yards in his third season. Johnson doesn't plan on revealing what he's learning this week in preparing for Sunday's start opposite Harrison against the NFC.

"I can't tell you my secrets. No way," Johnson said.

Usually, Johnson is going to tell you that nobody can cover him, but he's hesitant to say that this week because of the tempo of practice. He's working against cornerbacks he'll play next season in New England's Ty Law, Miami's Patrick Surtain, and Baltimore's Chris McAlister.

"You know the answer to that," Johnson said when asked if they can cover him in practice. "We're not going full speed, so it's hard to say. It's a good tempo, but we've got to play these guys next year, so I don't want to show them anything, either."

Johnson said the AFC worked for about 45 minutes to an hour Wednesday, plenty of time, "to just chill out." But Johnson hasn't gone near the beach. "No water for me. No way."

Johnson says he's already participated in one Pro Bowl tradition and traded helmets with Harrison's main man, Colts quarterback Peyton Manning.

BILLS TALK TO WYCHE: Former Bengals head coach Sam Wyche is undergoing what amounts to a tryout this week in Buffalo as new head coach Mike Mularkey mulls bringing in his mentor to coach the quarterbacks.

Wyche, whose left vocal cord was injured during surgery three years ago, says he's spending the week in Buffalo working "as a volunteer assistant."

Wyche, 58, and the Bills want to make sure that his voice can hold up during a NFL season. He's excited about getting back into the league after an eight-year hiatus following his run as Tampa Bay head coach from 1992-95. Wyche coached the Bengals from 1984-91 and took the club to one Super Bowl with an overall record of 64-68.

"I want to get back on the field and coach," said Wyche, who isn't looking to be a consultant. "The best part about coaching is teaching players. That's how I see coaching."

Following the injury, Wyche had two comebacks in the TV booth cut short but believes his voice is now strong enough to last a season coaching. When Mularkey retired from the league as a tight end, he sent letters to every NFL team to inquire about a coaching job, and Wyche was the only coach to respond and ended up hiring him in 1994 in Tampa Bay.

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