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Is Houshmandzadeh sandbagging his hamstring injury?

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Is Chick Ludwig inciting a story that T.J. Houshmandzadeh is sandbagging his injury, a subtle form of protesting his contract situation? Ludwig writes that his gut tells him that Houshmandzadeh is "sandbagging his hamstring 'injury' because he’s upset the club hasn’t renegotiated and extended his contract." Ludwig continues after a Sunday night observation saying "Houshmandzadeh ran numerous 60-yard sprints — effortlessly — along the sidelines prior" to the loss to the Lions and "yet he still refuses to practice. It’s his version of a personal protest."

That's pretty poignant, and a bit surprising. This off-season, when it became known that Chad Johnson would return to the Bengals, I were suspicious. During mandatory camp, it was learned that Johnson would have ankle surgery. I thought to myself, what a way to stage a protest/hold out, by not being the bad guy? Hey, it's injury, whose going to rip the guy for not participating with the team when he's hurt?

But T.J. Houshmandzadeh?

In July, Houshmandzadeh didn't expect an extension saying, "So if I don't have any expectations, I can't have any disappointments. If I re-sign, I re-sign and get a new deal. Cool. If I don't that's cool, too." Apparently, it's not cool.

Now let's be clear. Ludwig isn't really speaking as a matter of fact; he's intellectually guessing the situation based on the facts presented to him. Yes, he's inciting a story and yes, he's drawing reaction. At the same time, you can't argue against his points with any additional level of certainty.

Maybe T.J. is, maybe he's not. Who knows? It seems that we, the fans and media, are witnessing an absolute breakdown from the Bengals front office to the coaching staff -- well, more than usual or reflections from the 90s. And that's the most discouraging thing of all.

In March, 2005, Houshmandzadeh was given a four-year deal worth $13 million. In those three seasons since, he's averaged 93 receptions, 1,060 yards receiving and nine touchdowns. In 2007, Houshmandzadeh reached career highs in receptions (112), yards receiving (1,143) and touchdowns (12). Houshmandzadeh is scheduled to make $2,650,000 this season.