Posted: 6:15 a.m.
JohnsonAs Chad Johnson heads into the offseason, he's doing one of his patented tip-toe-head-flung-back jobs down the sideline as he dances the ballet between football and entertainment.
Just this week Johnson says he's been studying film, taking home movies like all of Mike Furrey's 98 catches. He's also shooting for one more stunt for charity before training camp starts.
Apparently some of those exhibition challenges he issued were heard a few weeks ago in the wake of his win over the thoroughbred Restore The Roar at River Downs. In his effort to drum up more money for his favorite charity, "Feed The Children," he called out the likes of boxing champion Floyd Mayweather, race car driver Jeff Gordon, and the Lakers' Kobe Bryant.
Of course, not everyone is impressed with his dominating 12-length victory over Restore in which Johnson clocked 11.1 seconds over an estimated 110 yards.
"That must have been Eisenhower's horse from World War II," said Bengals assistant strength coach Ray Oliver.
Bryant must still be in battle trying to get Jerry Buss to trade him, but Johnson says he's heard from NASCAR as well some of Mayweather's people. Johnson isn't sure what form the matches will take, but he's hoping to get one of them in before the July 26 reporting date and another in the Oct. 8 bye week.
"The only thing that matters is that it's for a good cause," Johnson said.
Johnson is taking the 2007 season a bit more seriously. This week, for instance, he says he's watching not only the Lions' Furrey, but also the Jets' Laveranues Coles, as well a Kansas City Chiefs training tape.
"That's to look at the one-on-ones," Johnson said. "I'm looking at all the receivers that got 1,000 yards last season. I'm looking at all their catches. How they got open. The different way they run the routes that I do. Steal as much as I can from them and add them to my game."
Johnson doesn't hesitate on who he thinks had great seasons: "The same guys. Steve (Smith). Torry Holt, very impressive. Donald Driver did some nice things."
But that's it because he's not going to tell you what's in his notes.
"I'm not going to tell you," he said. "It's got to be secret."
He admits there is nothing left to do statistically. He's coming off the first season a Bengal ever led the league in receiving yards in a year he became the first man to lead his conference in receiving yards four straight times.
Well, he has yet to catch 100 balls in a season and there is the matter of keeping that plus 1,300-yard pace he has established with Carson Palmer the last three years through his contract year of 2011. Only Jerry Rice would have more receiving yards in his first 11 seasons on such a pace.
But Johnson says there is only one thing left to do.
"Make it to the playoffs and stay there," he said. "Win the Super Bowl. Got to get that ring."
And, yes, he knows. He has to play better down the stretch in order for that to happen. If he could put together that 260-190 two-game set he had in mid-year in the last two games of the season, or in the playoffs, his legacy would be all but complete.
But last year he had just 10 catches in the last three games and several drops you never saw him make in the first three months of the season.
"I don't know why," he said. "If I knew, I would have fixed it by now. But I will."
He admits he gets too much adrenaline flowing, but he's certainly not dwelling on it. There are these tapes to watch.
"Last year is over with," he said. "I don't even think about it anymore."
HallLONG HOLDOUT SLIM: As of Thursday afternoon, not only had there been no first-round picks signed in the NFL but no second-rounders. So Doug Hendrickson isn't nervous.
Hendrickson, out of the Octagon agency, is Leon Hall's agent and Thursday from the Bay Area he said he's not concerned about getting a deal for Hall in time for the first practice of training camp on July 27.
He has yet to speak to Bengals executive vice president Katie Blackburn, the club's traditional negotiator for the top draft pick, but he has touched base with head coach Marvin Lewis in preparation for dealing with the 18th contract in the draft.
"We don't expect a hiccup," Hendrickson said. "We've done deals with them in the past and Marvin's always great. I don't expect to start talking until after the Fourth, if even then."
The Octagon football division, headed by the highly regarded Mike Sullivan, isn't known for messy first-round holdouts. The only extended one of note appears to be another cornerback, the Chargers' Quentin Jammer, with the fifth pick in 2002.
The Bengals would have to be happy if they could repeat what Hendrickson did with the Rams last year on another corner drafted in about Hall's spot. Tye Hill, the 15th pick, missed only the first day but he was on time for the first workout of the entire team.
It is going to get busy for Hendrickson soon because he also represents running back Marshawn Lynch at No. 12. But he'll also be doing the deal with Sullivan.
"Usually the big things in these deals are the length and this is pretty cut and dried," Hendrickson said. "The top half of the round is going to get six years and the next five, so we know right away we're starting with a five-year deal."
Sullivan and the Bengals had some dicey dealings of their own in 2002 when he represented the second-rounder, safety Lamont Thompson, and Thompson chose not to participate in the spring camps because the Bengals wouldn't sign an injury waiver guaranteeing money if he got hurt before he signed a contract.
But Hendrickson said the Bengals changed their policy shortly after that season, and Hall participated in every session this year. Plus, Thompson, released when Lewis arrived the next season, signed his deal on the eve of camp and wasn't a holdout.
"We've got a pretty good history with some very good cornerbacks," Hendrickson said of a firm that just this week completed the Bears' Nathan Vasher's lucrative extension. "Leon has told us he wants to be in on time and that's what our plan is."