The Bengals hit the field for their first practice of the regular-season on Monday, and they got great news right off the back with Michael Johnson suited up and on the field.
It's been a month now since Johnson went down with what looked to be a major knee injury early on in training camp. Thankfully, it turned out to be a sprained MCL. He hadn't practiced since then, though he has been working on the rehab field during the past two weeks, indicating a return appeared to be close.
At practice, Johnson wore a brace on his knee and was seen running around.
Still, Johnson may not be close enough that the Bengals think they need to risk his health during the first week of the regular season. Knee injuries like he has can linger throughout the year if not given enough time to rest and fully recover from. The Bengals aren't going to take any chances with a player as important as Johnson, and that's why it's possible he still won't be playing in Week 1, even if he is healthy enough to play.
Another starter who made his return Monday was linebacker Emmanuel Lamur. After suffering a hamstring injury in the Week 2 preseason game vs the Bucs, Lamur missed the last two preseason contests and all of the reported practice sessions during the past two weeks.
Among the other players who returned to practice after being injured during the preseason or in practices during the preseason were Leon Hall, Rex Burkhead and Darqueze Dennard. Hall and Burkhead were ruled out for the fourth preseason game, though their injuries were unknown. Dennard suffered a groin injury during practice prior to the preseason opener against the Giants. He played in the game and further aggravated the injury, keeping him out for the rest of the preseason and practices up to this point.
Having these players return is a great way to start off the week leading to the season opener in Oakland on Sunday.
*Note: The media is not in attendance at Bengals practice for the full duration of the session, only the beginning so how much the players practiced (fully, limited, etc.) is not known.