Thursday afternoon, Chad Johnson hurt his hamstring and popped on the team's injury report on Friday afternoon. Surprisingly to us, he was deactivated Sunday and now says, for the season-finale against the Chiefs that he's not sure he'll go. "I don't know," Johnson responds to C Trent's question. "I'm not sure. I mean, I don't want to really set myself back." Of course not. We wouldn't want to have a hamstring injury for seven months before reporting to camp in seven months.
If Johnson is out, they'll have to turn to Andre Caldwell, T.J. Houshmandzadeh, Chris Henry, Glenn Holt and would likely activate Jerome Simpson; who sat anyway last Sunday, with Johnson out, because Marvin Lewis foresaw only nine pass attempts. Messiah has returned?
Another significance of Johnson sitting is that his season is over. And boy, by far, this is Johnson's worst season in which he started ten games or more (throwing out his rookie season).
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His receptions (53), yards (540), yards-per-reception (10.2), touchdowns (4), 20-yard receptions (3), 40-yard receptions (0), and first down receptions (36) are all career lows. His longest reception in 2008 was 26 yards; his shortest long-reception between 2002-2007, was a 53-yard touchdown pass in 2004. In the five seasons preceding this season, his lows were 87 receptions (2006), 1,274 yards (2004), and seven touchdowns (2006).
In one respect, we're giving Johnson the benefit of the doubt; we have all season. He came into training camp still needing ankle surgery that he should have had in January (not excusing him for that either). Then he busted his shoulder against the Green Bay Packers in the first pre-season game. And it took Ryan Fitzpatrick several games to get comfortable in this offense, while the offensive line has been suspect all season. Yes, I'm being generous with the word "suspect". Opposing defenses still double Johnson, or rotate their zone coverages towards him which allows Houshmandzadeh's numbers to compare against league leaders, for a time, with the NFL's worst offense.
On the other hand, one of the biggest criticisms of Johnson is that he doesn't stand taller than everyone else. He definitely didn't fulfill an open-door question about leadership (if that question even existed). Yes, he's been a perfect gentleman. Isn't the point. Gentleman or not, we needed guys to step up all season; why shouldn't he have been a greater presence, not on ESPN, but on the field? Why not most of the players, for that matter? Johnson, while most say that Houshmandzadeh is the team's best receiver, was always a big, critical factor for this offense. Defenses still game-plan for him. He's Chad Johnson. Where did he go?
Demanding trade. Threatening to sit out. Reportedly for money, though often denied. Realization that Brown has his way. Mostly sedated all season. Giving advice about a "Monster". Terrible numbers.