Johnson wants in

11-6-01, 3:15 a.m.

BY GEOFF HOBSON

Chad Johnson doesn't want the Bengals just to throw him the damn ball. Their rookie receiver just wants a darn active spot.

Johnson is so intent on playing this week in Jacksonville, he showed up in his helmet ready to practice even though Monday marked just the 22nd day since he broke his clavicle against Cleveland.

His coaches ejected him from the practice and trainer Paul Sparling said no matter the outcome of Monday's CT scan, "it's highly unlikely," he'll play this Sunday or even the next Sunday.

"I think we're still looking at Cleveland," said Sparling of the Nov. 25 away game. "This is an injury that typically takes up to six weeks. If he goes out there

and fractures it again before it's healed, we're talking the whole season instead of just a few games."

But all of that means nothing to Johnson. He wants to play so badly that he's pondering taking his own transportation to Jacksonville. And it's hard to tell if he's kidding.

But he is quite serious about picking up where he left off, which is catching three big first downs in the 24-14 win over Cleveland.

"I don't care if they fine me," Johnson said. "I'm not missing any more games. This is the stretch. It's time to play. If I have to go across the middle and just fall down, then I'll just fall down. It will be a first down, though."

A big reason why Johnson is so jacked up to get back now is because so many of his friends are from Florida and have the Miami connection. Plus, the Titans come to town Nov. 18 and he can't wait to play against his cousin, Tennessee cornerback Samari Rolle.

And he really wants to be ready Dec. 2, when another cousin, receiver Keyshawn Johnson, brings the Buccaneers to Paul Brown Stadium.

"Time to play," Johnson said. "It's so frustrating. I can't be sitting any more."

THIS AND THAT: Call him Joe Willie Dillon.

Running back Corey Dillon joined his old teammate on Boomer Esiason's pregame show on FoxSportsNet Sunday. When asked his guarantee for the upcoming games, Dillon didn't blink an eye in predicting the Ravens would hold Steelers running back Jerome Bettis to under 100 yards.

Bettis finished with 91 as the Ravens ran their regular-season streak to 41 straight games without allowing a 100-yard rusher in their 13-10 victory over Pittsburgh. Four of those games include holding down Dillon.

"I just went by their track record," Dillon said Monday.

"Nobody is getting 100 yards against them."

Do you think Dillon enjoyed working with Esiason again? In the five games Esiason quarterbacked at the end of Dillon's rookie season, Dillon rushed for more than 200 yards once, 100 yards twice, and 88 yards once. His lowest game was 60 yards and in the one game Esiason came off the bench to play significantly, Dillon ran for 97.

"It was nice," Dillon said of the reunion. "I enjoyed it. It was cool." . . .

Coach Dick LeBeau said Monday he's hopeful DT Tony Williams (foot) can play for the first time in 35 days this Sunday. He said CBs Tom Carter (knee) and Robert Bean (hamstring) are still dinged, but they are better than they were and should be able to take some snaps Sunday. Trainer Paul Sparling said Williams is the most questionable of the three. . .

RT Willie Anderson (knee) sat out Monday's practice, but will return Wednesday.

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