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'Got to be Chad'

Posted: 12:55 p.m.



MIAMI, Fla. - In the middle of just being Chad here at his hometown Super Bowl, Bengals wide receiver Chad Johnson says he's looking to shed last year's taciturn image as well as a little leeway from head coach Marvin Lewis.

"I got to just be Chad, not like I should have been," Johnson said of last year. "Every week should have just been comical. At the same time with comedy equals production on Sundays. I'll be back. I'll have some good stuff for next year."

Johnson had a whirlwind tour down Radio Row here Wednesday morning. In an hour span he hit ESPN News, a radio station from Baltimore, a TV station from Chicago (where former Cincinnati anchor Paula Farris did the honors), radio, and SIRIUS radio before hitting NFL Network. He also stopped by for a few words with Jim Rome.

He isn't looking to tweak Lewis, the man he knows is probably cringing at the thought. After all, the New Chad became the first Bengal to lead the NFL in receiving yards in 2006. But he knows the bulk of his production came in a five-game stretch of nearly 1,000 of his 1,369 yards.

"It is a line; I have to sit down with Marvin and let him know," Johnson said. "Come in this year, I want to do this, this, and that. You already know what you're going to get from me. But I need you to give me a little leeway. We'll see what happens."

The Bengals aren't playing in Miami because they lost their last three last games when Johnson had just 10 catches and an estimated four drops. He admitted Wednesday he pressed.

"I put too much pressure on myself. I really wanted to carry the load. I felt like Kobe (Bryant) in the last minute," Johnson said. "Instead of just letting the game just come to myself.

"I just have to relax and treat it like the regular season. Just go out there and play. I was trying to go to the house with everything. It cost me sometimes."

At every turn, Johnson shunted aside the character question. He's going to let quarterback Carson Palmer's words stand on their own.

"Happy time. No bad times," Johnson said. "Let Carson be a ... team leader. He really has to take that stand. Somebody has to take that stand and do that," Johnson said. "People would really like me to come out and do that type of thing, but I really focus my energy and my talking to football on the field, not off the field.

"I'm no angel myself and I try to walk the straight line and I've been able to do it my entire life since I've been playing. You never know. I could get in trouble. Nothing I would do on purpose. I'm in no position to even open my mouth."

But Johnson may have got off the line of the week, or at least the line of the day in his reunion with correspondent Alexander Ferguson, a United Kingdom-based reporter who covers the NFL. They share a love of British soccer and Johnson revealed he has the phone number for star Thierry Henry and they talk before every game.

"I'd be the fastest guy on the field," he told Ferguson. "I could be the streaker. Would they arrest me?"

Johnson also revealed on the Row that his first conversation with new receivers coach Mike Sheppard came when Johnson returned his call at 4 a.m. one morning.

"I said, 'C'mon, wake up, let's talk football,' " Johnson said. "It was fun."

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