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In receivership

Updated: 6 p.m.

The Bengals were off Monday but wide receiver Chad Johnson came to Paul Brown Stadium to treat his sprained shoulder according to spokesman Jack Brennan.

Brennan said Johnson still professes that he'll be ready to play in the Sept. 7 regular-season opener in Baltimore as he tries to extend his streak to 104 straight games.



The injury, Johnson's shoulder popping out of the joint and then popping back in that was caused by landing awkwardly on his elbow, runs the gamut. Head coach Marvin Lewis said after the game the Bengals are going to treat it conservatively and see how it responds.

Something called is saying speculation has it he'll be out two to four weeks. Others have Johnson will miss up to six weeks. Or the entire season if surgery is required on a sprained shoulder that popped out of the joint.

One thing is certain: With T.J. Houshmandzadeh not knowing when he's going to return to practice, the state of the Bengals receivers is critical heading into a Sept. 7 game against Rex Ryan's perennial top 10 defense in Baltimore that ranked sixth last season.

Throw into the mix that rookie receiver Andre Caldwell, a guy projected to be active Opening Day, left the locker room Monday night on crutches with his sprained foot in a boot and just how tough is it?

Some Ocho-less options if Ocho is sidelined for any amount of time?

Is Chris Henry viable at this point? Marvin Frazier, one of his representatives, said he had nothing concrete from any team Monday afternoon, but the Bengals have been talking to him as of last week.

If Henry surfaces, that may mean the injuries to Johnson and Caldwell are serious because Henry can't play or practice until the week of the fifth game because of an NFL suspension.

Is there an alternative currently on another roster who'll get cut?

Not so fast. Is the guy going to be much different than what the Bengals are trying to coax out of guys like Marcus Maxwell, Antonio Chatman and Glenn Holt? Player X would need a couple of weeks to learn the system, and those three have not already been in it, but they've made catches out of it.

What about second-rounder Jerome Simpson off his five-catch, 114-yard night?

Probably best summed up by quarterback Carson Palmer.

"He's gotten better since training camp has went along," Palmer said, "but he's definitely got a long way to go before he can come into a game and you can count on him. He's playing in a new league and that's a big step up from him considering where he's coming from (Coastal Carolina). He just needs more reps in game-like situations."

The 6-2, 195-pound Simpson did display the downfield speed that the guys other than Johnson don't possess, particularly when he turned a third-and-three short sideline route into a 24-yard run after catch.

"(Ryan) Fitzpatrick made a great throw. He put it on my left shoulder and I just took off," Simpson said.

It was Fitzpatrick who hooked up with Simpson in the intrasquad scrimmage after he was impressed with his tools and enthusiasm. Jeff Rowe, another backup quarterback, also went to Simpson on Sunday, this one on the last play of the game on a 42-yard Hail Mary that Simpson emerged with at the Detroit 6.

That's the Simpson the Bengals drafted: A guy with huge hands that can run and jump.

"That's one of my niches," Simpson said. "I have to get that. That ball was mine and I have to go and get it."

Simpson says the game is slowing down for him. What was fast forward a couple of weeks ago is now getting back to regular speed. That's good news for the Bengals, but can they rightly expect a 100-yard game from him during the regular season?

The only rookie wide receiver to have a 100-yard day for the Bengals this decade is Danny Farmer eight years ago, and it happens about once every decade or so.

The only other rookie receivers to have 100-yard days for the Bengals are Darnay Scott (1994), Eddie Brown (1985), Cris Collinsworth (1981), Isaac Curtis (1973) and Speedy Thomas (1969).

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