Johnson gets new list to check vs. Ravens

M. Lewis pulls a switch on Bengals receiver


His plan was foiled before it ever had a chance, leaving Chad Johnson to speak wistfully of what could have been.

Johnson, the outspoken Cincinnati Bengals receiver, said he had something special in the works to tweak the Ravens heading into Sunday's game at M&T Bank Stadium, which he has dubbed "the game I've been waiting for."

Johnson has posted a list at his locker with a headline asking: "Who covered No. 85 in '05?" Each opponent and its best cornerback is listed, followed by "Yes" or "No" boxes.

Johnson had revised the list to stir things up with the Ravens but found it had been removed by Bengals coach Marvin Lewis, who apparently disapproved when he saw it late Tuesday night.

In its place hung a list of a more team-oriented variety.

"The list says, `Did Chad finish his block? Yes or No. Did Chad help a teammate get better? Yes or No.' Stuff like that," Johnson said. "They spoiled my plan. It was going to be lovely and all over the news."

Said Lewis: "His list was good. My list is important."

Johnson will not divulge what he had written down for the Ravens.

"I can't tell you," he said. "He took it down for a reason, so I know he didn't want it to get out.

"[Lewis] took it," Johnson added. "That could have made the Hall of Fame of all lists. That was a good one."

Such is the Bengals' life with Johnson, whose theatrics have made him one of the most sought-after players in the league. Every NFL team has a player conduct a phone interview with the opposing team's media the week of the game, and Johnson is 9-for-9 in representing the Bengals this season.

"Probably because I have such good stuff to say," said Johnson, who craves attention and is unapologetic in doing so. "I've got great material each week."

His popularity would be nothing without production. Johnson leads the AFC with 717 receiving yards on 48 catches and also has five touchdowns. Johnson is cruising toward his fourth straight 1,000-yard season and what would be a third straight Pro Bowl appearance.

Johnson may be one of the three best receivers in the NFL, but his credentials sometimes are underappreciated because of his stunts. Some of his memorable antics include sending a bottle of Pepto Bismol to the Cleveland Browns' secondary last season before a game - the Bengals lost and Johnson was a non-factor - along with twice guaranteeing victories (they won both times).

Johnson once made a hand-held sign asking the NFL to not fine him again after he scored a touchdown, and he has broken out a number of fancy dance steps - including a Riverdance version - upon reaching the end zone this season. He often holds a monologue with the camera as he warms up before games.

What Johnson has not drawn this year, to the surprise of some, is an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty.

"You love to celebrate scoring a touchdown, and Chad will never do anything to get us a penalty," Lewis said. "As long as he's scoring a touchdown and celebrating, I'm happy for him."

But Lewis must have felt Johnson was about to take it too far this week. Only he and Johnson know what was on that revised list, but chances are, it was nothing derogatory toward Ravens cornerback Chris McAlister.

Johnson had high praise for McAlister despite having some of his best days against the Ravens while often getting inside the volatile cornerback's head. In seven games, Johnson has 100 receiving yards or more three times and has scored five touchdowns.

He could have gloated about his past exploits of the Ravens' defense, but Johnson took the high road, admiring the play of McAlister and Samari Rolle, whom he went to high school with in Miami. But that doesn't mean he is expecting to give either player a "Yes" check after the game on the original list.

Incidentally, that list will be put away until the end of the season, leaving Lewis' updated version as the sole motivator for Johnson.

"No one has broken up a pass or stopped any passes that have come my way," Johnson said. "Therefore, no one has gotten that `Yes' check for stopping me. But it's fairly easy. All you have to do is stop me one time, and no one has done that."

Notes -- Offensive lineman Lester Brown, who was with the Ravens in training camp this summer, died Monday in an automobile accident in California. He was 23. Brown signed with the Ravens as a rookie free agent out of Louisiana Tech in April and was released by the team Aug. 29. ... Kyle Boller (toe), Ed Reed (ankle) and Tony Weaver (toe) are doubtful for Sunday's game. Mark Clayton (ankle) and Ovie Mughelli (ankle) are questionable.

Bengals@Ravens Sunday, 1 p.m., Ch. 13, 1300 AM, 102.7 FM Line: Bengals by 3

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