11-23-01, 3:00 p.m.
BY GEOFF HOBSON
The Bengals are having a tough time getting their top two speed receivers on the field at the same time.
They get Chad Johnson back for the first time in six weeks Sunday against the Browns, but now Darnay Scott's bruised ribs have turned into a game-time decision.
Scott said coming off the field Friday he would be ready to play, but head coach Dick LeBeau said he is "questionable with an underscore," for the game in Cleveland and that he couldn't have played Friday.
"Every day he has felt better. Today, he felt like running," LeBeau said. "That
means maybe in two days he might be ready to go. It will definitely be a game-time decision."
The best-case scenario is probably Scott and Johnson playing in limited situations. Johnson, who broke his left collarbone in the 24-14 win over the Browns Oct. 14, finished his second week of practice Friday, but the Bengals don't want to overload him in his first game back.
But at least Scott and Johnson have timed their injuries with the emergence of their young receivers who operate opposite Peter Warrick's flanker spot. Ron Dugans has caught nine balls for 102 yards the past two weeks, including a touchdown. Danny Farmer is coming off back-to-back 45-yard games and although rookie T.J. Houshmandzadeh got blanked against Tennessee, he caught his first six NFL catches two weeks ago in Jacksonville.
Those three are pretty much interchangeable and will probably line up according to what personnel group they help best. Dugans has turned into a bit of a go-to guy with consecutive career-high 51yard games.
Warrick, looking to score his first touchdown in seven games, is tied for seventh in the AFC with 11 third-down catches for an 11.5-yard average.