CINCINNATI – Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Chad Johnson's inactivity during the morning practice to open the team's three-day mini-camp was not surprising given the recent acrimony. However, it did create some interesting back and forth between Johnson's agent, Drew Rosenhaus, and the team about why Johnson was unable to participate.
Rosenhaus said that Johnson has bone spurs in his right ankle that the team has said will require surgery. The team, which initially said Johnson had only an undisclosed "ailment," countered that in the afternoon by saying that Johnson told them he had a back problem just before going out to practice.
The team wrote in a released statement Thursday: "Chad Johnson was given a physical this morning by one of the Bengals team doctors. He did not report any physical problems to the doctor and he was cleared by the doctor for practice. Later, after the physical was concluded, Chad told our training staff that his back was sore. He refused to practice."
Until later in the day. According to the team's website, Johnson participated in drills during the early portion of the afternoon session.
Earlier, Johnson joined his teammates about 10 minutes late for the first practice. The only thing he did was a "mirror" drill with fellow wide receiver T.J. Houshmandzadeh, then watched the rest of practice. Johnson never caught a pass and never ran a route.
After the early practice, coach Marvin Lewis gave the ailment explanation and said the team's medical staff was "investigating" and was "going to do some further studying." After that odd explanation, Rosenhaus said Johnson has bone spurs in his ankle that prevented him from participating in the mini-camp.
Rosenhaus said there is a difference of opinion between Johnson and the team on how to deal with the injury. The Bengals would prefer that Johnson have surgery on the ankle to remove the bone spurs. Rosenhaus said that Johnson has been told by respected orthopedic surgeon Dr. Robert Anderson that he doesn't need to have surgery.
Surgery to remove bone spurs could keep Johnson out of much of training camp, which the Bengals are set to open on July 28 in Georgetown, Ky. Last year, New York Giants wide receiver Plaxico Burress had offseason surgery to remove bone spurs. Burress had the surgery in February, but was only able to practice once a day every other day in training camp.
This is the latest turn in the drama between Johnson and the Bengals. Since the end of Cincinnati's season, Johnson has complained about his contract and about the team, saying he wanted to be traded to a team he considered more serious about contending. Over the years, Johnson has jousted with the Bengals and the NFL over a number of issues, such as his touchdown celebrations.