Perry eases into top spot

Updated: 4:55 p.m.

If the season opened now, Chris Perry would be your starting running back.

So said Marvin Lewis on Wednesday as he displayed some urgency about the slow progress of injured incumbent starting back Rudi Johnson and wide receiver T.J. Houshmandzadeh that is going to keep them from playing in the first three preseason games of the season.

Lewis also said that wide receiver Chad Johnson's sprained shoulder has progressed quicker than first thought and Opening Day remains the target.

Asked what Johnson would have to do to win the job back, Lewis said, "I have to see Rudi play and practice, practice, practice and then play."

"Same (with T.J.). I think T.J. needs more (practice) than he thinks," Lewis said. "I think for the runner it's not quite as significant. We want to make sure he can stand it. But I think for T.J. there's more to it. Things change and things have changed and things move within the snap of the football. It's important T.J. gets some snaps and get going. T.J.'s a very smart guy. He understands football very well. He understands the offense and what we do very well. (But) until you do it ... "

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Meanwhile Lewis has been impressed with Perry's first full preseason in five NFL seasons.

"Chris feels like the starting running back and he feels very good about that," Lewis said. "Right now that's probably the way we'd enter the season. He's exhibiting it on the practice field, not only in the games he's played but the way he's practiced and that's good to see."

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How thin is the receiver position? The Bengals apparently lost their fourth one to injury Tuesday when Marcus Maxwell went down with a torn muscle that threatens to keep him out the first month of the season. Now they'll have to go with Glenn Holt, Antonio Chatman and rookie Jerome Simpson as the top three wides Saturday.

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Cornerback Ethan Kilmer's hard luck continues. For the second straight season, this time with a quadricep injury, he's possibly headed to season-ending injured reserve after being waived Wednesday. Kilmer, who excelled on special teams as a rookie when he also returned an interception for a touchdown on just his fourth snap ever as a defensive player, injured a quadricep muscle in the first couple days of camp. If he clears waivers he'll revert to the Bengals IR list.

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Also departing via injury is rookie fullback Bradley Glatthaar. Glatthaar, the Elder High School and University of Cincinati product, took a settlement for a knee injury.

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Fullback Jeremi Johnson is expected to make his season debut Saturday night at Paul Brown Stadium after practicing the last two days. Johnson had been sidelined by weight problems and offensive coordinator Bob Bratkowski said after Wednesday's practice, "He's got a long way to go."

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Circle Sept. 15 on the calendar because someone is gong to look ridiculous. Bengals quarterback Carson Palmer has bet Cincinnati Enquirer columnist Paul Daugherty on the Sept. 13 USC-Ohio State game, the contest in which Palmer dared tout his men from Troy at the expense of Buckeye wrath.

If 'SC wins, Daugherty has to show up at Palmer's Monday news conference in face painted black and orange. If the Bucks win, Palmer must wear an Ohio State garment, preferably a sweater vest.

On his WLW Radio 700 talk show Daugherty asked Sweater Vest Himself, Buckeyes coach Jim Tressel to send one to Palmer. He said he would.

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No question that Carson Palmer thinks Chris Henry is a big-play receiver, the kind of guy "that can stretch the field and do a lot of things for us."

But that isn't Palmer's primary concern about the troubled receiver that has caught 17 touchdowns during three seasons and around three suspensions.

"Just for me personally I hope he makes it and stays out of trouble," Palmer said after Wednesday's practice.

"But more importantly (than football), he just has to get through life, make the right decisions and move on. He has a family now. He's got a lot of responsibility. It sounds like he's going in the right direction and hopefully he can keep moving that way."

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