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Michael Johnson optimistic about MCL injury, playing Week 1 vs. Raiders

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The Bengals face the Raiders in four weeks. Will Michael Johnson be on the field for it?

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With the final week of Bengals training camp beginning, Michael Johnson is still not expected to be back on the field anytime soon.

The veteran defensive end is still recovering from an MCL sprain suffered early in training camp that was initially expected to keep him out four to six weeks.

Johnson met with the media today and discussed his recovery, which he believes could have him back on the field for the Week 1 opener when the Bengals travel to the Bay area to play the Oakland Raiders.

Johnson also believes the power of prayer helped keep the injury from being more serious than originally thought, via Bengals.com:

"I prayed before they moved me," Johnson recalled before Monday’s practice. "Whatever was wrong with it, it was going to be less wrong. When I prayed, whatever it was initially it was going to be less than what it could have been. That’s the way it worked out."

Johnson originally suffered the injury on August 2, which puts his return date around August 30 if that four-week timetable holds true to form. That would give him as much as a full two weeks of practice before facing the Raiders on September 13.

That said, Johnson wants to play now, and seeing how his fellow linemen suffocating Eli Manning and the Giants Friday night only made him more anxious to return:

"Everybody can play,’ said Johnson, who caught Friday night’s impressive showing against the Giants on tape. "It made me want to speed up this (rehab)."

As Johnson told Cincinnati.com, he's just trusting the process and following his rehab protocol in hopes of returning as soon as possible:

"Just following protocol and going through the process, trusting the process," Johnson said. "They do a good job here taking care of us and getting us ready to roll. I trust what they've got going and go from there."

Bengals defensive coordinator Paul Guenther also previously expressed optimism that Johnson will be ready by the end of preseason. At this rate, it looks as though the odds favor Johnson being back by Week 1, but given the Bengals' history of misdirection with injuries, we can never be too sure.