TRAINING CAMP 2008 INDEX: Features, news, notes, video, photos, schedule and more* * *
Updated: 9:25 p.m.
GEORGETOWN, Ky. - The Bengals couldn't get out of the first practice of the season Monday morning without suffering what appeared at first blush to be a major injury.
But now it appears they have dodged at least a season-ending injury. Right end Antwan Odom, the richest free-agent in Bengals history, has suffered what head coach Marvin Lewis called simply "a foot sprain." Lewis said Monday night that tests on Odom's foot came back negative and that he expects Odom to be ready for the regular season opener September 7 at Baltimore.
As the Bengals prepared for Monday night's practice, Odom rode to the locker room in a cart. Wearing a Reds cap, he still had the crutches and the boot.
"They're saying to take it day-to-day," said Odom, who also hasn't been given a timetable.
But Lewis did say that fullback Jeremi Johnson has been placed on the non-football injury list and isn't practicing because of his weight problem. An obviously miffed Lewis said Johnson is fighting for his job and referenced the other training camps Johnson has been shelved because of conditioning.
"I've talked about it too much," he said.
If the Bengals and Rivers' agents are going wait on the No. 8 pick to get signed to close the gap, it could be a long wait. The tough Tom Condon represents Derrick Harvey in Jacksonville.
Other highlights after a morning practice that just beat a pounding rainstorm:
The 2008 season started as placidly as Cincinnati's offseason was volatile.
In cloudy and cool conditions, about 250 fans at Georgetown College watched the Bengals unlimber in shorts with Lewis most likely to put them in pads for the first time in Monday night's practice.
Chad Johnson (ankle) and DeDe Dorsey (groin) were on the sidelines and have been placed on the active PUP list, meaning they have to pass team tests before they get activated. They are both probably about a week away.
"From what I've been told, it's not (an) unreasonable (length of time)" said offensive coordinator Bob Bratkowksi, who says he'll be better than last year because floating bodies in the ankle were a nagging problem.
"There is no timetable. It's when he can prove he's ready to practice and play football," said Lewis, who is comfortable with Johnson's progress. "He's got to get back to doing that. It's one thing to have surgery, then there are other things you're asked to do that you have to keep doing and follow up with and when you're not here under our supervision and care, then we're not quite sure what you've been doing and we have to make sure that you're right before we put you out there."
Johnson played cornerback in a walk-through in front of a mostly silent crowd. One fan did shout, "Hey Chad, where's your helmet?" but it was business as usual.
But he talked to only ESPN and no other media after the practice.
With Rivers still unsigned, the Bengals used the extra spot to fill a need of numbers at cornerback. New in camp is rookie Jonathan Zenon, a free agent out of LSU. He signed with the Jets in May and was cut 11 days ago.
Brandon Johnson, a free agent from Arizona, took Rivers' spot at WILL linebacker, a player Lewis praised Monday and said his spot in the nickel package is evidence he showed up in the spring drills.
"The big day is going to be tomorrow; how I feel then," Anderson said.
Offensive line coach Paul Alexander left no doubt that Anderson could end up being the starter.
"You're talking about Willie Anderson. A Hall of Fame-type player," he said. "You're not talking about just a guy. And with that is a balance between respect for the player and his accomplishments and what's best for the team at this time."
Wide receiver T.J. Houshmandzadeh came up with The Play of the Day, but he didn't catch a ball. He caught some words of the animated new defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer telling one of his players, "I could pull someone out of the crowd who could cover better."
"I like our defense," Houshmandzadeh said.
"I don't know. That's too personal. Chad wouldn't talk to me about that," Houshmandzadeh said.
But it does affect Houshmandzadeh because his deal is up after this year. He thinks the Bengals could pay both Pro Bowl receivers.
"Just look down the road at Indy and what they pay Marvin Harrison and Reggie Wayne. Marvin Harrison makes more than me and Chad combined," Houshmandzadeh said. "Where there's a will, there's a way. You can do whatever you want to do. They'll know how much I mean when I'm gone, but I'm not even thinking about that right now. Just play as well as you can, win games, and it takes care of itself."
Shayne Graham drilled six of his first eight field-goal attempts, the last one from 52 yards.
Still reeling from last year's turnovers, Lewis is making the offensive players secure the ball until they get back into the next huddle.
Former Bengals defensive back Solomon Wilcots and former Bears quarterback Jim Miller host "The Red Zone" live at Georgetown Wednesday from 12-3 p.m., on SIRIUS NFL Radio channel 124.
Also, in what the club describes a procedural move related to his retirement, linebacker David Pollack was placed on the reserve/did not report list. He has apparently not yet filed retirement papers with the NFL office.