Notes: Henry also coping with knee

Updated: 8-23-06, 5:45 a.m.



Forget the off-field stuff. Wide receiver Chris Henry is trying to get healthy enough to stay on the field. Carson Palmer's knee got all the ink in the offseason, but the torn posterior cruciate ligament Henry suffered in his knee on the same play has also been a tough comeback.

Henry, who practiced Tuesday morning for the first time in about a week, thinks his sore hamstring might be related to his knee problem. Henry didn't require surgery, but he says he still needs to build up his quadriceps and other muscles around the knee.

"I'm still trying to come back; I'm not 100 percent," Henry said after the morning practice. "It just gets fatigued. I've got to get my strength up in my quads. I can do everything, but I get tired quick. I think the hamstring is sore from being weak. That's what I guess."

When he's been on the field, he's been a bear. He tore up the intrasquad scrimmage for five catches for 117 yards and then had to back off in the Mock Game before wrecking the Redskins for six catches and a 12-yard touchdown in the preseason opener. Then he sat Friday night in Buffalo.

He's not sure he can go Monday night ("I hope so," he said.) but he's looking forward to a reunion with Palmer. Their Red Badge of Courage 66-yarder is the longest and costliest pass in Bengals postseason history.

"He kind of tripped me up (from behind) and I landed on my knee," Henry said. "I felt pretty good today. A little sore. I'm trying to get back in he groove."

The trial for his felony gun charge in Orlando is supposed to start within the next two weeks, although the case has a chance of being continued. Henry also has two other legal cases pending and a conviction or admission of guilt in any of them earns a suspension under NFL policy.

"I'm just focused on football right now," Henry said.



MARVIN GARDENS: Tuesday marked head coach Marvin Lewis' last two-a-day of training camp as the team begins to take on a schedule more resembling the regular season. He must have done something right because the Bengals lead the NFL with 63 points and a point-differential of plus-29.

The last part of this week entails a Carson Palmer news conference on Thursday, a Lewis news conference on Friday, and then one of those brisk 90-minute Friday-like practices on Saturday 48 hours before the game, a Monday nighter against the Packers.

Thursday could be the day Lewis makes it official and anoints Palmer the starter.



CHAD UPDATE: Whatever Lewis does, wide receiver Chad Johnson is guaranteeing a big time in front of the ESPN lights at Paul Brown Stadium.

"It's going to be a show," Johnson said. "This is the (third preseason) game and (Carson) will play the first half. We will put on a show for his return. He won't talk that way but I'll talk for him right now."

Johnson, trying to become the first in history to win four straight conference receiving yardage titles, isn't worried about Palmer keeping up his end of the deal.

"He'll be better than last year; he's smarter," Johnson said. "He's comfortable with the receivers around him. He's learning that Antonio (Chatman) is fast, Bennie Brazell is fast. He's in a comfort zone. To me, all he needs to do is execute. He's got the people around him. Big Willie (Anderson) on the line, us, it makes his job easier. No such thing (as rust)."

Palmer and Johnson continue to be Velcroed together during practice. Take this obscure but telling moment from the early part of Tuesday morning's workout:

It's just a drill where the receivers line up and take turns running routes with the line of quarterbacks. Sort of like a layup drill. On one route over the middle, Johnson went one way and Palmer's pass went the other. As the drill kept going, they automatically walked toward each other and met in the middle of the field for a brief 'what's up.'

"That's what I like (to call) a little Peyton-Marvin like," said Johnson of the Pro Bowl QB-receiver duo of Peyton Manning and Marvin Harrison in Indianapolis. "When he's in my head and I'm in his and we don't have to say anything."

They'll be able to check out those guys in the Sept. 1 preseason finale at Indy, but Manning and Harrison probably won't play if Colts head coach Tony Dungy runs true to form. The big question: Will Lewis play Palmer?

SHIRT OFF HIS BACK: Johnson is looking forward to the latest product due to come out of the Bengals Pro Shop on Friday in time for the weekend. It's a bit ironic that a T-shirt honoring him has no words. His image, from the shoulder pads on up, is on a black T-shirt, complete with gold teeth and blond Mohawk, His signature is across the Bengals block-lettered B logo.

Price: $20.

Quote: Priceless.

"Very catchy shirt," he said.



STRONG SIDE: David Pollack returned to his strong side linebacker spot for the first time in 17 days Tuesday with the words, "Got to start earning my keep, man."

Pollack's hamstring must be air tight because he not only practiced in the morning; he also went in the afternoon workout that is traditionally off limits to players battling muscle strains after already working once.

But his desire to get back should surprise no one. If Pro Bowls were given out for preparation and tape analysis, Pollack would be a shoo-in. But they aren't. Pollack knows mental reps only go so far. His injury took up almost as many days as his 19-day holdout last year.

"I've been into it; I still know what's going on," said Pollack, who had been on the field without his helmet the last several days before Tuesday. "It's one thing to watch tape and know what to do. It's another thing to actually have to go through the reads live while you're playing."

Pollack's return means fewer snaps for Rashad Jeanty, the CFL product playing behind Pollack on the strong side and rushing on third down who has been so impressive and looks to have made the team if Cutdown is today. But he's in the other boat.

"Sometimes you can see more by watching and taking mental reps; it slows it down for you. That's what I need more," Jeanty said. "Pollack knows the defense. He knows his job as well as the safety's job back there. I'm not at that point. It's a pleasure to ask him what's going on in certain situations. The way he knows the defense in his second year, that's pretty impressive. I need to get to him and (watch tape), the way he knows the defense, that's a big plus."

If you put down Jeanty as a yes, along with the three starters, rookie Ahmad Brooks and special teams ace Marcus Wilkins, and you figure the Bengals keep seven linebackers, that leaves veterans Caleb Miller and Hannibal Navies battling with fifth-rounder A.J. Nicholson for the last spot with Odell Thurman on the suspended list and not counting on the final 53-man roster.



INJURY UPDATE: After taking part in Lewis' fully padded practice Tuesday morning, Palmer planned to take off the afternoon session as he has all preseason. He says he remains on schedule but there hasn't been a final decision on his expected start Monday night against Green Bay.

The Bengals looked to be healthier than at any point since breaking training camp 10 days ago. Returning Tuesday morning were linebacker David Pollack (hamstring), left tackle Levi Jones (ankle), and Henry (hamstring, knee).

Also on the field was defensive end Justin Smith, who didn't work Monday for unexplained reasons. Plus, wide receiver Antonio Chatman (groin) ran routes with the wide receivers early in practice after not doing it Monday.

Among those not practicing were defensive tackle Sam Adams, running back Kenny Watson and offensive lineman Scott Kooistra.

It was the first action for Pollack since he injured his hamstring 17 days ago in the intrasquad scrimmage. Jones lined up for the first time since spraining an ankle nine days ago in the preseason opener.

Pollack also worked in the afternoon, but Henry and Chatman didn't. Also not working was linebacker Brian Simmons.

PLAYER MOVES: The Bengals placed safety Anthony Mitchell on injured reserve, ending his seventh season. Mitchell, who led the club in special teams snaps and tackles last season, suffered a severe foot sprain Aug. 13 against Washington.

Rookie running back Terrence Whitehead of Oregon was waived/injured. Whitehead suffered a toe injury Friday night in Buffalo. He reverts to IR if he clears waivers Wednesday.

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