Updated: 2:35 p.m.
The Bengals celebrated the last practice of mandatory minicamp Saturday morning by lining up their first set of receivers for the first time this spring.
After not practicing Thursday because of a back ailment and some limited work Friday, Chad Johnson saw his first action from scrimmage and caught one ball in the first set of 11-on-11s when he ran a route in front of backup cornerback Ethan Kilmer and caught the pass from third-stringer Jeff Rowe.
Also for the first time this camp, Johnson ran routes with the quarterbacks and receivers for a full drill. He looked sharp catching some short sideline routes from Carson Palmer, but the pair wasn't able to hook up on any vertical passes.
"He worked hard; he was rusty," said offensive coordinator Bob Bratkowski. "(The defensive backs) are playing hands on and a very physical style of defense. If you haven't been working and preparing against that, it takes you a while to get back used to it."
Bratkowski thought Johnson looked a little gimpy on the ankle.
"He's got that ankle issue at the end of the season. They were trying to get it taken care of, it hadn't been taken care of, he needed to get it taken care of," Bratkowksi said. "He's going against guys that have been out here 14, 16 practices. You're going to look that way when you have none. He worked hard."
Johnson also seems to be getting back in the good graces of Cincinnati. He mingled with fans at Friday night's Taste of the NFL at Paul Brown Stadium and coming off the practice field Saturday he signed autographs and kissed a woman who said, "We love you Chad."
With a Channel 19 camera looming in, he offered one of his old standbys with a new twist: "Cincinnati, I love you. Vote for Obama."
But he didn't talk to the media.
Also working with the first offense on some plays was right guard Bobbie Williams taking some snaps at center. But that was only because Bratkowksi was sick of seeing bad snaps from backup centers Dan Santucci and Kyle Cook. "We need to make sure we've got a backup center," Bratkowski said. There are no plans to try and make Williams the first-string center. "We're training Bobbie to see if he can become one," Bratkowski said.
Backup running back DeDe Dorsey, who injured his hamstring Thursday, appeared in street clothes without crutches. Cornerback Blue Adams (ailment unknown) remains sidelined.
For a minute there during the last practice of mandatory minicamp Saturday morning, it looked like the Bengals were trying to solve their dilemma on the offensive line when Williams moved to center.
"Right now I'm backing up," he said. "We're in a curious position. The only thing I'm looking for is clarification on where my career is. I definitely want to service the team. At the same time I want to play and be a starter."
Anderson did this weekend what the Bengals were hoping after he played just seven games last year because of a knee injury. He worked the entire camp and said, "I feel great. I was hurt last year, not this year. I feel like I've just been playing football."
The current starting right tackle Stacy Andrews, 27, is the franchise player at $7.4 million this year and the Bengals have apparently decided they want to keep him at right tackle and not move him to guard. But they looked to be trying to find a solution Saturday when center Eric Ghiaciuc came out, Williams moved to center, Andrews moved to right guard, and Anderson came on to play right tackle.
But the club was only doing that because it wasn't happy with the way Santucci and Cook were snapping the ball and now the Bengals are wondering if they need to make their emergency center, Williams, their backup center. He isn't in the mix as a starting center.
At Friday night's Taste of NFL event at Paul Brown Stadium, Anderson said Bengals president Mike Brown told him he looked good.
And he feels good.
"It is what it is," he said. "I really can't comment right now. We'll see what happens."
COACH C.: Charles Collins, who has been working with the wide receivers in his role as an NFL Minority Coaching intern, was delighted to find he has much of the same beliefs as quarterbacks coach Ken Zampese and wide receivers coach Mike Sheppard. Collins, who was in the program with the 49ers in 2002 and 2003, already goes way back with Bratkowski and Bengals receivers Johnson, T.J. Houshmandzadeh and Antonio Chatman.
"Ken and I have a lot of the same concepts when it comes to developing football IQ and attention to detail," Collins said. "And it's been great the way Shep has let me come in and let me do my thing."
Collins, Johnson's closest confidant and his position coach at Santa Monica Junior College, runs the well-known Phenom Factory in Los Angeles, a hotbed of college and pro receivers where Johnson and Houshmandzadeh always spend the month before training camp with fellow Southern Californian Palmer.
This July it's going to be a veritable Bengaldom. Not only is Palmer going to drive two hours up the coast from San Diego, but Collins says rookie receivers Jerome Simpson and Andre Caldwell are going to join Johnson, Houshmandzadeh and Chatman.
Collins says it is his understanding that Johnson is going to have his ankle scoped in the next few days so he can get back on the field in July and get ready for the July 27 start of training camp.
Collins said he was encouraged by what he saw Saturday from Johnson in his first full practice of the spring with his team. He had been working with Johnson the previous two weeks in Los Angeles. He also feels like he's seeing the results of several talks with Johnson.
"He looked how I thought he was going to look: rusty," Collins said. "He needs to get his legs underneath him and once he does that, he'll be fine. I said this was going to be a day-by-day thing. He knows how disappointed I'd be in him if he let this opportunity slip away. We've talked about doing things the right way. It was just good seeing him out there again following and really working hard to get better. He'll be fine."