Bengals WR Johnson: Shoulder fine for opener vs. Ravens

Updated: September 2, 2008, 11:27 AM ET
By James Walker | ESPN.com

CINCINNATI -- Bengals receiver Chad Johnson, who has legally changed his last name to Ocho Cinco, said Monday that he will play in Sunday's season opener against the Baltimore Ravens and that he's "super, extra-focused" in both mind and body.

The receiver cited a renewed focus on his team, which he said had been lacking this offseason; physically, he deemed his partially torn labrum in his left shoulder "fine."

Chad Johnson

Johnson

"There's nothing wrong with me, trust me," Johnson said. "I mean, you'll see it on Sunday. I can do everything. I can hit you with my left right now, but I'm not going to. I'm fine. I'll give you a story after Sunday."

Johnson did not want to discuss his legal name change to Ocho Cinco in his first interview since the news became public. Asked if he would try to get the name on his jersey for the season opener at Baltimore, Johnson said, "It don't matter what it says. It don't matter. If it ain't about the Ravens, I don't want to talk."

Instead, Johnson wanted to keep the focus on the Ravens and the task of playing against a defense led by linebacker and mentor Ray Lewis.

Ironically, at the urging of Bengals coach Marvin Lewis, Ray Lewis consoled Johnson during his troubled offseason to the point that the receiver is finally ready to get back to football.

Trade demands, a desire for a new contract and postponed ankle surgery made for a tumultuous past seven or eight months for the Pro Bowl receiver.

"I've got a lot of making up to do to a lot people," Johnson said. "Teammates, coaches, from the top all the way down."

Monday's practice was the first time quarterback Carson Palmer and receivers T.J. Houshmandzadeh and Johnson were together on the field this preseason.

In addition to Johnson's shoulder injury, Houshmandzadeh missed time with a bad hamstring and Palmer suffered a broken nose.

Johnson credited Palmer for giving some of the best advice for handling his shoulder subluxation, which will need monitoring all season.

"As soon as I got hurt, he told me to take it seriously," Johnson said. "He thought I would just go in and get treatment. But my rehab is a six-month process, which is the whole season. So he said, even if I'm feeling fine, pretend like you're still hurt. He was right."

James Walker covers the NFL for ESPN.com. The Associated Press contributed to this report.

James Walker | email

ESPN Miami Dolphins reporter

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