The Cincinnati Bengals began their voluntary offseason workouts Monday with one notable absence — WR Chad Johnson.
Coming off an injury-plagued 2008 season in which an injured shoulder limited Johnson to 10 starts in 13 games, the Bengals were hoping for Johnson to show a renewed commitment to the team this offseason.
Johnson recorded 53 receptions last season for 540 yards and four touchdowns — his lowest totals since his rookie season in 2001.
“I’m not worried about him. I’m worried about the guys we have here,” said Bengals QB Carson Palmer, who added that he hasn’t had any communication with Johnson this offseason. “The guys that want to be here and want to work now are the guys in the locker room here today and here this offseason. I’m not worried about anybody else.”
Palmer also said that his surgically repaired right elbow, which limited him to just four games last season, is 100 percent and hasn’t limited his offseason throwing.
“My elbow feels great,” Palmer said. “I’ve just got to keep throwing, get the small mechanical things that I normally do this time of year, get back to doing those and really just get to work with some of the young receivers and the new receivers we have.
“I actually think it’s a lot stronger. I did a number of exercises and worked out muscles I never even knew I had, just with doing the rehab that I did with the trainers. I can already tell my arm’s gotten stronger just from all the rotator-cuff exercises … I think it already is stronger now. I just need to keep it where it’s at throughout the whole season.”
One of the new receivers Palmer referred to is nine-year veteran Laveranues Coles, signed by the Bengals this offseason after having been released by the New York Jets.
“Laveranues, I’m extremely excited to get to work with,” said Palmer. “I’ve now had a chance to watch every ball thrown his way from the past season and really see his strengths — they really glare at you on film. He does such a good job getting in and out of his breaks, setting up defenders and attacking the ball once it’s in the air. Being a quarterback and knowing that guy’s going to be on your team is exciting. I’m just fired up to get to work with him and get a rhythm going.”
Overall, Palmer was very optimistic about preparing for the upcoming season. He told the assembled media that after seven seasons, it was time to seize the moment. According to Bengals.com, he told his teammates that the Bengals had enough pieces to make a run for the championship.