Updated: 3:25 p.m.
If the Bengals picked rookies of the year in the spring, the Defensive Rookie of the Year would be third-round pick Michael Johnson, the Georgia Tech pass rusher who has sent the coaches back to the blackboard and turned the heads of the quarterbacks.
Reserve quarterback Jordan Palmer pulled Johnson aside recently and told him to start watching tape of Jevon Kearse. Johnson was just a mere lad of 12 when Kearse came barging into the league 10 years ago as "The Freak," and rung up 14.5 sacks as a rookie.
"If I were in his position and had those tools and I had the tools to be the most dominant rookie defensive player in the league, then I would watch the one guy people are comparing me to," Palmer said. "See how they used him; see what that guy did to get all those sacks his rookie year."
Kearse goes 6-4, 265 pounds. Johnson is listed as 6-7, 266. And growing.
"He's definitely impressed everyone in our quarterback room," Palmer said. "We've all talked about him. You can not block him with a running back.
"Mike Zimmer has made a statement that they're going to use him because from what I see they're playing him at three different positions. Inside at tackle, WILL (linebacker) on third down and D-end. He's obviously going to be a big part of what we do this year."
SLANTS AND SCREENS
» The temperature is supposed to hit 92 degrees Friday afternoon, but tempers were already soaring a little bit in the Bengals Friday morning workout across the street from Paul Brown Stadium.
Defensive tackle Domata Peko got into a wrestling match with rookie guard Colin Dow and linebacker Jim Maxwell traded a few slaps with left guard Nate Livings after a play. Maxwell also had some words with tackle Anthony Collins downfield. Then maybe the two most physical guys on either side of the ball, SAM linebacker Rashad Jeanty and center Kyle Cook went to the ground in the flat and they had words.
"It's hot. It's OK," Jeanty said.
» Wide receiver Laveranues Coles had two great catches. He plucked a ball out of the air one-handed high over his head as he fought the sideline and cornerback Geoff Pope. Later, he stretched out as far as he could to stay inbounds in making a fingertip grab.
» Safety Chinedum Ndukwe came up with two interceptions on balls thrown to the middle of the field and he was there waiting. One came off a tip. Cornerback Johnathan Joseph robbed quarterback Carson Palmer when he made a leaping grab in front of wide receiver Antonio Chatman in the corner of the end zone.
» Wide receiver Chris Henry continues to catch all kinds of routes. After taking an arrow from Palmer over the middle, they woke up the echoes with a 50-yard bomb in the air on their vintage fly pattern that Henry tracked down over his shoulder in front of Joseph. Then Jordan Palmer hit Henry on the same route and Henry informed beaten cornerback Simeon Castille, "You can't play me like that, man." He saw the safety move to the middle of the field leaving him one-on-one and told the QB, "Give it to me."
» Wide receiver Jerome Simpson continues to struggle. He dropped an out pattern on a timing pattern on the sidelines that was in his bread basket and his resulting anguished profanity could be heard at Five Mile and Beechmont.
» Wide receiver Chad Ochocinco looks quicker than he did last week and he made some nice catches despite good coverage on quick sidelines routes. Offensive coordinator Bob Bratkowski said after practice that Ocho's quickness is as good as two years ago.
And Ocho is insisting he's forgetting about last year.
"That was a year for everybody else to catch up," he said. "Now I'm going to leave everybody behind again. I'm trying to get people to understand how good of a year this is going to be."
The Ocho confirmed he sent a tweet to ESPN radio's Mike and Mike Friday morning challenging former NFL lineman Mike Golic to a fight because of some negative comments Thursday on NFL Live. Golic said that if The Ocho doesn't "fly right," and he goes back to acting like he did before this minicamp, the Bengals ought to get rid of him. Golic said he's not a school kid anymore and doesn't plan to step into "the schoolyard" to fight him.
"He's talking like he's 12 years old with some of the comments," The Ocho said. "I didn't see it. I didn't hear it. Someone told me it was negative. It was probably about last year."
» The jugs fired out some kick returns instead of Shayne Graham. The first returners were wide receiver Andre Caldwell and running back Kenny Watson, followed by Watson and rookie wide receiver Quan Cosby. Rookie Bernard Scott was then teamed with fellow running back James Johnson.
» Backup center Dan Santucci was on the sidelines on crutches with his foot in a boot, but he says he's only out a week and he'll be ready next month for training camp. Someone fell on the foot two plays before the end of Thursday's morning practice. It appears that fourth-rounder Jonathan Luigs has been getting the bulk of his snaps.