Here's the dilemma. Chad Johnson is the most divisive player Cincinnati Bengals fans. Cut 'em. Keep 'em. Trade 'em. Ask three people. You'll get one of those responses. Sometimes with a sigh, a curse word, a flippant hand gesture or the response, "How dare you demand he leave?". Maybe you'll get a response born of homerism (not a bad thing); give him a chance, he's proven to be awesome and he's reportedly having the best offseason in his career. Marvin Lewis spoke to him.
"The biggest thing I told Chad just the other day is with a lot of the new things we're doing he's going to have to play catch up," Lewis said. "He's excited about that and is working hard."
Really? I won't bemoan the fact he's not in camp. I won't bemoan the fact that he's uncharacteristically quiet. Sure, it would be nice if he's working with the team, developing camaraderie, friendship, like warriors in boot camp. Is he excited? Is he working hard? Is Marvin Lewis defending Johnson and trying to put calm to the fictionally created battle of two superpowers in the media? We'll find out.
I hope he does come back, after working hard, excited to be back, in a new offense, with new weapons. A lot of us have written Johnson off. Good bye. He's disgruntled. He's not motivated. How can he help us? Time to move on. But he's still here. He won't be traded. He won't be cut. Healthy and working hard. Excited. He hasn't been talking to anyone; he's talking to coach.
But not to his quarterback. Why?
"I think their relationship has been a good, strong relationship," Lewis said. "Right now Chad doesn't have a relationship with Carson because he's not here right now. Their relationship on the field is the most important thing, off the field they're two different guys. They probably couldn't be any further away and I think they both recognize that and that's why they've meshed so well on the field."
That's the point though. Isn't it? Developing, or reigniting, a relationship, on the field. OTAs benefit that. Twitter, not so much. It's good that Johnson is talking to coach. There's going to be a re-orientation of sorts for Johnson to become reintroduced to the team. Not that no one knows him. He used to be on television all of the time. But really know him. Joke with him. Develop that friendship. Perhaps even a mentorship with a young guy like Jerome Simpson. So while I won't bemoan that Johnson isn't at OTAs, I will say that nothing but good would have come from it. Hey, he's talking to coach. Baby steps.