Skip to main content

Naming rites

Posted: 5:20 a.m.

Asked how he would like to be referred to in the newspaper, the player formerly known as Chad Johnson simply said, "What has already been documented."

Chad Ocho Cinco wouldn't talk about his name change legally executed in Broward County, Florida last week. But he elaborated Monday on how he was going to reestablish his good name after an offseason it was mud in Cincinnati.

"Sure, it's easy to take shots at me. I have to make sure I walk a straight line," Ocho Cinco said. "I've got a lot of making up to do to a lot of people ... starting with Mr. (Mike) Brown, Katie, and working my way down. And the fans are going to get a (crap)load this year."



The Ocho strapped up his harness underneath his shoulder pads for the first time since tearing his labrum two weeks ago and joined fellow Pro Bowl wide receiver T.J. Houshmandzadeh with quarterback Carson Palmer on the field for basically the first time since they worked the regular-season finale in Miami nine months ago on Dec. 30.

Somebody else was also out there, too, Monday, on the practice field in the person of Charles Collins, Ocho Cinco's position coach all those years ago in junior college at Santa Monica College.

Collins, a receivers guru on the West Coast, has apparently joined the Bengals for the season assisting receivers coach Mike Sheppard. Collins had been coaching at training camp in the NFL's Minority Fellowship intern program, but he's been seen on the field last week and Monday during workouts at Paul Brown Stadium.

The Ocho indicated that Collins is here for this season and that he's going to be a big help in assisting Sheppard getting Johnson and Houshmandzadeh in sync with Palmer as well as developing rookies Jerome Simpson and Andre Caldwell.

Collins has not only been Ocho Cinco's closest mentor over the last decade, but he's worked with several NFL receivers at his "Phenom Factory" camp, such as Houshmandzadeh and Bengals receiver Antonio Chatman.

"The type of knowledge he has is unbelievable," Ocho Cinco said. "I got my whole game from him. My thought process, getting open, how to run routes, releases. He's a big-time guy. Smart move. He'll help us with the young guys."

Ocho Cinco is determined to get back to the basics Collins has hammered into him for years. He spent Monday reiterating what he said when he returned from an offseason of blasting the team and demanding a trade.

He has to become more consistent. Even though he broke his own Bengals record last year with 1,440 yards, he says it was a down year because of that lack of consistency.

"For whatever reason I wasn't anywhere near the player I've been," Ocho Cinco said. "Carson (Palmer) talked to me at minicamp and he said we left 1,800 yards or more on the field. He added up the drops, the catches I could have had, the throws he could have made ... easy. Just being consistent."

That's the word offensive coordinator Bob Bratkowski gave him last season every week when Ocho Cinco would come into his office and ask if he was that bad.

"Brat told me for a seventh-year player, I wasn't as consistent as I should be," he said.

He hasn't exactly been blessed with a lot of time to get ready. After missing the voluntary camps with what he calls his "antics," he missed the first week of training camp as he recovered from June 18 arthroscopic ankle surgery.

He returned to work Aug. 4. But on Aug. 17 he tore up his shoulder after it popped out and then back into the socket when he jammed his elbow as he fell on the turf trying to make a leaping catch against the Lions.

If it pops out again, he needs season-ending surgery, but he is unworried and the Bengals medical and strength staff continues to be amazed by his healing powers. Johnson insists his shoulder is 100 percent and that he can lift the same weight on every machine he uses in the weight room pre-injury.

He credits Palmer with being a big help with the injury.

"He told me to take it seriously," The Ocho said. "My rehab should be a six-month process. It should be the whole season. Any time I'm feeling good, pretend to yourself like you're hurt. Like now, they're making me go (in the training room), but I feel good."

The Ocho says he's not sure the team wants him to stay on the field extra this week because of the shoulder, but he indicated he thought he and Palmer would have plenty of time to get on track during practice, citing the "143" snaps the offense would get Monday.



Ocho Cinco said it will be easier for Palmer and Houshmandzadeh to hook up again, but with his longer routes and specialty plays, "I don't want to say it's harder, but it's a lot more complicated."

If it sounds like Ocho and Palmer are on the same page, he says they are. His harsh words to his QB over the offseason ("Stay out of my business") seem to be like everything from that winter and spring of weirdness: A distant memory.

But he says it could happen again.

"Nothing's changed. If we lose, I'll be pissed. If we go 7-9, I'll be pissed. But I'm here now," he said. "I've said my piece. Now I have to shut up and put up ... now I have to give you all a treat.

"People don't see me wanting to win. They don't want to see that."

But that said, he says he's received "a lot of love" since he's been back in the town that was burning and donating his jersey a few months ago "and I've been everywhere."

"Some people still might be pissed off on the Internet and they write negative things," he said, "but they aren't the people I see in public."

The fans are high on his payback list, too.

"I've got a lot of making up to do to a lot of people," Ocho Cinco said. "Not to just my teammates and coaches, (but) from the top all the way down. I pissed a lot of people off in the offseason. I've got to become completely focused. No distractions. I have to stay an attraction and be extraordinary in what I do."

He's calling it "extremely focused," and says the only names he's thinking about this week belong to Ray Lewis, the Ravens Hall of Fame middle linebacker and one of his Miami mentors, as well as cornerbacks Samari Rolle and Chris McAlister.

Ocho Cinco would love to duplicate last year's opener against the Ravens. A 39-yard touchdown catch down the sideline and four other balls during a 95-yard game in a 27-20 victory.

But after so may wars with Rex Ryan's highly-ranked defense (he hasn't had 100 yards against the Ravens since he went for 161 in 2004), he knows exactly what to expect.

"I call them a playground defense," Ocho Cinco said. "They're the only team that can do it because of all the talent they have on defense ... they put people everywhere. They stand up half the time. They're all about confusion."

What was once a confusing offseason now seems pretty clear.

It's what's in a name.

"I'm not going to shut up," Ocho Cinco said, "but I'm going to put up."

This article has been reproduced in a new format and may be missing content or contain faulty links. Please use the Contact Us link in our site footer to report an issue.