RELATED: Chad Johnson conference call transcript* * *
Updated: 9-28-06, 5:50 a.m.
"He is fine. T and I talk every day. We just talked on Monday night during that Atlanta and New Orleans game for like an hour watching the whole first quarter," Johnson told the New England media Wednesday in a conference call. "So as soon as I got the news when I came in this morning, you know I had to make my call (not to Owens) to make sure everything was OK."
Later Wednesday, Owens denied a Dallas police report that he became ill when he attempted suicide by overdosing on pain medication.
"He took the pain medication for his hand, but he took it on an empty stomach," said Johnson of Owens' broken finger. "I'm sure if any of you tried to take pain medication on an empty stomach, your stomach is messed up and there is no way for you to actually fix it because you are taking pain medication. He was only (at the hospital) two hours and he (checked) out. He is at practice today."
Owens blamed a combination of the pain-killer hydrocodone with all-natural supplements for what he called a bad reaction, according to ESPN.com.
Meanwhile, Johnson continues to be the anti-T.O., regaling the New England media with his lunch menu instead of his shopping list.
"I'm eating white rice, baked chicken. I have some deviled eggs and some green peas," Johnson said. "I have to stop eating McDonald's. Can I talk trash to you guys, so you guys can relay the message?"
So even though Johnson is coming off his worst game in the Marvin Lewis era (one catch, 11 yards), he's still talking. Maybe even more. The checklist guy this week is one of those guys in that endless line from the Florida frat, cornerback Asante Samuel.
You tell 37 (strong safety Rodney Harrison) I'm going to knock his helmet off. You tell Asante to make sure that he continues to have help all four quarters or his 22 is going to be 55," Johnson said. "Is that what it looks like upside down? Wait a minute, I'm not finished. You tell Junior [Seau] when I'm done with him ... never mind I'm not going to pick on Junior. That is not a good one. I could get hurt there."
Johnson admitted that Harrison is one of the great old-school-bottom-of-the-pile trash talkers. But he's also a guy whose advice Johnson values highly and he goes to him often, such as before the teams played in the 2005 preseason, and Harrison counseled him on staying in the headlines for the right reasons.
Johnson says he's done that for wide receiver Chris Henry during his string of problems.
"I have Chris under my wing. Chris is going to be fine. He is a great addition to this ball club," Johnson said. "He is what I call a Randy Moss threat. Maybe some people might not see it that way. I call him my Randy Moss threat. I'm excited for us about what we have going on and we have two things that are on our back right now that are going to make this offense super scary, two names that are Chris Perry and Antonio Chatman. When those two get back healthy it is going to be ridiculous."
You don't have to tell Patriots head coach Bill Belichick after this same offense rolled up 478 yards at Foxboro even though his team won a 35-28 game. It was the most yards allowed by the eventual Super Bowl champs that season in a year they allowed Indy 446 and Seattle 443. A fact not lost on Belichick in his conference call with the Cincinnati media Wednesday.
Bengals quarterback Carson Palmer left that game (and the season it turned out) with a sprained knee and 202 yards passing in the middle of the third quarter. Belichick says Palmer is now one of the league's best and Harrison puts him in a class just below Peyton Manning.
"They're a very opportunistic and productive offensive football team," Belichick said. "They're very hard to stop, they don't make a lot of mistakes, and they make a lot of big plays. Their running game opens up a lot of things for them in the passing game and the passing game opens up things for them in the running game, and they've got a good quarterback pulling the trigger making good decisions.
"Palmer is an outstanding player, he really is. He throws the ball with the kind of velocity that very few quarterbacks do and on top of that he's very accurate. You better have them covered when he lets it go because the ball doesn't stay in the air very long."
But the Bengals offense knows that when it comes to defense, Belichick is just as scary as Dick LeBeau, the Steelers defensive coordinator that hatched a good enough plan last week to stifle Johnson as well as get to Palmer for six sacks.
"Both of those guys do a great job of taking something away. That's what we're expecting," Palmer said. "A lot of people automatically assume it's Chad Johnson. You just don't know. They change it up so well. It could be Chad Johnson or it could be Rudi Johnson. It could be T.J. Houshmandzadeh. Both of them are veteran coaches. I can't say one of them is better than the other. They're two of the best in the league at what they do."
Johnson figures he knows what's coming.
"Mr. Belichick, I love him to death, but he wouldn't do it; he wouldn't do it," said Johnson of leaving him one-on-one. "The same reason no one else has done it the last three years. Tell him, please if he feels free, just give me a little one-on-one. I won't score. I'll stop at the one, and go out of bounds or something."
GOOD NEWS: The club got a lift Wednesday when David Pollack showed up to sit in on meetings and attend the first part of practice. The only visible sign of his broken neck is the halo on his head he has to wear for three weeks. He politely declined media interviews, saying, "Look at me. What's the big deal? I can walk and talk."
So can running back Chris Perry, and even though he can't play for three more weeks, he agrees with head coach Marvin Lewis that he's going to be ready once he's eligible to come off the physically unable to perform list (PUP) after rehabbing his ankle and knee.
He even suggested he could go now if needed. Asked how many days of practice he would need to get ready, Perry said, "Just two," meaning Wednesday and Thursday of the week before the Oct. 22 game against Carolina.