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Larry Johnson might play on Sunday if Cedric Benson is out

Larry Johnson is the fourth running back. Larry Johnson is an insurance policy. Larry Johnson won't play on Sunday as long as the other three running backs are healthy. These were the talking points from head coach Marvin Lewis, who carefully walked a minefield after reports surfaced that the Bengals were signing a player with potentially incendiary qualities. Signing Johnson wasn't a popular move with Bengals fans. Players are optimistically cautious -- some completely defer to Cedric Benson, which is a true sign of the respect players have of Benson in the lockerroom. Benson himself approves the moves, based on very good conditions. Help the team.

However, on Tuesday, head coach Marvin Lewis said that Johnson could play on Sunday, writes Geoff Hobson.

With former Chiefs running back Larry Johnson sitting next to him in a Paul Brown Stadium news conference Tuesday, head coach Marvin Lewis didn’t rule out using the newest Bengal this Sunday in Oakland if Cedric Benson can’t play.

Ah, one of the conditions. Good. Good.

What I really like out of all of this is the growing perception of Benson. In the 14 months, we went from wondering if he was what we're thinking of Larry Johnson now, to not only being one of the best players on the team, but respected and liked by all of the fans. And I really loved this:

“Once the hip is ready, I’m gone,” he said. “I’m running all the way to Miami and the Super Bowl.”

Benson is the man.

Like him or not, Johnson is in Cincinnati. He is a Bengal. Like him or not, he's here.