Posted: 7:15 p.m.
JohnsonChad Johnson preferred to keep it low profile even though it's a Chad-Made-For-TV week. Being it Monday night and all in a matchup pitting him against Patriots wide receiver Randy Moss, the closest man challenging him for the NFL receiving title.
But Johnson quietly made a huge impact on the family of the late Dan Ross when the group, led by Ross's wife Joanie, visited the Bengals' Sunday walkthrough at Paul Brown Stadium. When Ross' son, Dan Jr., approached him, Johnson told him he knew exactly who Dan Ross was and hugged him.
"Everyone down there was great. It was a special day," said Artie Ross, Dan's brother, who joined the contingent traveling from Ross' native New England. "Chad pulled aside Joanie and had some kinds words to say."
Ross, who died suddenly of a heart attack in May of 2006 at age 49, became one of the first and best receiving tight ends in the NFL when he arrived in Cincinnati as a second-round pick out of Boston's Northeastern University in 1979. The Ross family is filled with Patriots fans, but Artie Ross said that wouldn't be the case Monday.
"Not tonight," he said. "We're all rooting for the Bengals."
SLANTS AND SCREENS
Robert Geathers, 24, the Bengals' 6-3, 265-pound left end, agreed when someone called him "a young Adalius Thomas," 30, the 6-2, 270-pound Patriots inside linebacker and most sought-after player in free agency.
But the dimensions and athletic ability are where the similarities end. When Thomas rushes the passer, he has to contend with favorable matchups like tight ends and running backs. Geathers takes on 350-pound tackles and sometimes the line slides to him.
Geathers hasn't noticed the line slides to him that much yet, but he knows the Patriots have allowed quarterback Tom Brady to be sacked three times in the first three games.
"When you look at (their offensive line), there isn't one that stands out," Geathers said. "But as a group they're very solid. They don't make any mistakes. They don't bust. And Brady does a good job with a quick release."
Geathers had some pressures against Seattle last week and one quarterback hit, but he's still seeking his first sack since the opener.
"We've got to make (Brady) uncomfortable," he said.
A season after safety Herana-Daze Jones led the Bengals in special teams tackles, he's at it again with a team-high six, one up on linebacker Caleb Miller. Miller's back injury that kept him out of Monday's game continues to dog a special teams unit that has been hounded by injury. Not only is Miller out, but Kenny Watson can't be on teams because he's the No. 1 running back in a continuing saga that has the cover teams struggling with a No. 30 ranking on kicks and No. 25 on punts.
The Patriots not only come in with the NFL's top offense and defense, but they have the league's top kick return average off a Ellis Hobbs-record 108-yarder, as well as the No. 9 punt return unit that has caught Jones' eye.
The 5-9, 185-pound Wes Welker has been a beacon of consistency. He averages 13 yards per his seven returns, but doesn't have one longer than 29.
"He's fast. He can stop on a dime, go the other way and he's shaky," Jones said. "You can't let him catch it and run."
Making his Bengals debut Monday is cornerback Blue Adams and his job is purely to play on special teams.