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Thursday Morning Links and Notes -- For his part, Chad Johnson is no distraction

I'm not exactly sure people that claim Lewis is the next NFL head coach on the chopping block really understand Mike Brown. First off, it's unlikely that Brown would payout Lewis' existing contract. Secondly, Brown is deeply loyal to coaches especially the way Art Modell pushed Paul Brown out. Furthermore, there's no indication that Lewis has lost the "respect of his players". In fact, we've been reminded from the players either by written online pieces by beat writers, or interviews on local talk radio, that Lewis has the lockerroom. That's not the issue. The issue is we don't have Carson Palmer. At least that's what I believe. With Palmer, this team might not finish above .500, but they're not 0-7 either.

While I don't believe Lewis will be the next head coach fired (see Rod Marinelli clinging onto a job with a new General Manager), I do think that this piece is more accurate on the point of leadership. There's NO leadership among the players, as there seems to be void among the coaches. There's no guy that says, "to hell with this", takes over a game for the team to follow him towards victory.

The irony of facing the Houston Texans is compared to 2002. The Bengals were 0-7 heading into a game against the Texans -- in both 2002 and 2008. However, Chad and T.J. thinks that the comparisons stop there. "You can't compare," Houshmandzadeh said. " Just from a team aspect as far as discipline, it's way different and better. From the outside looking in, it doesn't look like that. That's how it is. When you lose, you lose bad."

The Bengals are 9.5 point underdogs?

Conference call transcripts from Chad Johnson and Marvin Lewis with the Houston media.

This Jungle Insider headlines that Antonio Chatman, Andre Caldwell and Jerome Simpson are all wearing protective boots. Since the site is a pay service to read the entire article, that's all it says. And I have a thing for paying for services such as opinions.

Jason Shirley must be present during pre-trial motions on October 30.

Bob Bratkowski on being criticized: "There should be. At the end of the day it’s my responsibility. If we’re not performing, it starts with me and goes – the accountability is with everyone, but I feel the starting point is with me. Obviously I’m frustrated, but certainly still very optimistic."

Kevin Walter was awesome when he was with the Bengals. Even though he caught 19 passes for 211 yards, his most significant contribution was 15 solo tackles on special teams in 2005. However, some have made the mistake in the opinion that the Bengals should have matched the Texans offer of $6 million over four years. The offer was after the 2005 season, while Chad Johnson and T.J. Houshmandzadeh were starting, and Chris Henry was coming into his own. At the time, we didn't need him and we thought Kelly Washington would be more than enough to replace him. Even though Henry hasn't been all that useful to the Bengals since 2005, you can't suddenly change your opinion based on changing facts from then to now. It doesn't work that way. We didn't need him at the time, and let him go.

Ryan Fitzpatrick on his NFL debut at the Houston Texans' Reliant Stadium (or is park?). "It was a hectic game. It came down to the wire, and we were scrapping and clawing all the way to the end of the fourth quarter. We had to recover an onside kick and kick a field goal to tie it up at the end. I just remember it being a lot of fun going out there. It was my first opportunity to play."

Chad Johnson, for his part, is keeping things really positive. During the off-season, knowing that the team was keeping him, we all had the fear that Johnson would be a super-distraction because of his desire to leave. In truth, he's surprised me tremendously. "The past seven weeks that we've played, we've really been in every game. We really haven't been blown out. We've played well against all opponents, including those that people really counted us out - like Dallas, New York, teams of that nature. We're playing well with everybody. We've just got to figure out a way to finish it."

The Bengals offensive line are relieved that they don't have to worry about the blitz for the first time in, like, forever.

I really have nothing to say about all this | the Bengals reaction.