- Coley Harvey, ESPN Staff Writer
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CINCINNATI -- From all indications, the Cincinnati Bengals dodged a bullet Sunday evening when veteran defensive end Michael Johnson was given a more favorable injury prognosis than originally feared.
When the seven-year veteran went down suddenly during moderate contact in a run-stopping drill, there was immediate concern over what happened inside his knee. Although he got up and walked over to a nearby cart on his own power, coach Marvin Lewis admitted after practice he took little solace in that sight. He's seen other players walk off the field following leg injuries and end up with worse diagnoses than Johnson received.
ESPN's Josina Anderson reported late Sunday that Johnson has an MCL sprain and is expected to return in a few weeks.
The average MCL recovery is about six weeks, but it could come down to how severely the ligament was sprained and what level of pain Johnson will be able to play through when he feels ready to go. Six weeks would give him enough time to heal before the season opener at Oakland.
Monday, one day after Johnson's injury, the Bengals add onto the shoulder pads they just brought out and will go with full pads. With that addition comes more contact and competitive drills to test individual toughness and strength.
Those drills will not include the "Oklahoma." Even before Johnson's injury, Lewis had decided to go with a modified version of the famous drill that has players go one-on-one in a competition to see which one is the last standing after they make contact.
"It's just, we're progressing, we're beyond that," Lewis said. "We know who the tough guys are around here. We'll do a form of it, but it's not quite called that. Just changing names."
Here's a quick look at the rest of the Bengals' schedule this week as camp continues:
The Bengals get their first true contact sessions of training camp. In addition to half-line drills that will replace the Oklahoma drill, players will be popping pads in the trenches at game speed for the first time. Corners also will get to press receivers, meaning there should be more physical battles between them. Like it will most days this week, practice starts at 3 p.m. ET.
As what offensive coordinator Hue Jackson considers the "dog days of camp" set in, coaches will be looking to see how well players push through after two straight days in full pads and high heat. This practice also precedes the team's first off day of camp.
Players' off day.
This will be about the point in camp when coaches will start looking for more consistent play to be replicated throughout the team. Position groups which struggled getting into rhythm early will start wanting it now.
In arguably their coolest practice of the preseason, the Bengals will have a shorter overall day. Instead of practicing in the high heat of mid-afternoon, they will get going in the moderately cooler 6 p.m. ET hour. It may also be their final fully padded practice of the season, as they start reverting back into non-padded and shoulder pads only practices.
"Family Day" will be a free early-afternoon practice (starts at 1:30 p.m. ET) in which fans can attend inside Paul Brown Stadium. It will be the first modified scrimmage, too.
Players' off day.