Bengals interested in running back Johnson
CINCINNATI — Larry Johnson might get to revive his troubled career with a team known for giving second chances.
Bengals coach Marvin Lewis said Monday that Johnson would be in Cincinnati to discuss a limited role — fourth-string running back, essentially an insurance policy in case Cedric Benson's hip injury gets worse or another running back gets hurt.
It's a very low-profile role.
"That's what his role would be, it would be as a fourth running back and an opportunity as a backup player on this football team doing all the things backup players do, and that's work their tails off in the kicking game and showing looks (on the scout team) and so forth that way," Lewis said. "And then he would be an insurance policy if something would happen down the line to one of our guys where he'd have a chance to be active.
"But I couldn't foresee him being active when he was initially here, if this is what happens. And that's what I've told him."
Lewis said the interest in Johnson is unrelated to Benson's injury. Benson, who is one of the NFL's top running backs, strained a hip muscle and couldn't finish an 18-12 win in Pittsburgh on Sunday that left the Bengals (7-2) in control of the AFC North.
Benson is expected to practice on a limited basis this week. Lewis said there's a chance he could play Sunday in Oakland.
Johnson turns 30 on Thursday and is coming off several years of decline. He also created controversies while with the Kansas City Chiefs, who released him last week on the day he was due back from his second suspension in the last 12 months.
The Bengals have a history of giving extra chances to troubled players. Owner Mike Brown brought Chris Henry back to the team before the 2008 season — over Lewis' disagreement — and the receiver has stayed out of trouble since then. Henry is out for the rest of the season with a broken left arm.
Benson was signed last year after the Bears let him go because of his off-field problems. He had two alcohol-related arrests in Texas, but the cases were dropped when grand juries declined to indict. Benson has revitalized his career in Cincinnati — he ranks sixth in the league in rushing with 859 yards and leads the NFL with 205 carries.
Lewis assured Benson that the interest in Johnson would have no effect on his status as the primary runner. Lewis said he first spoke with Johnson by phone last Thursday, before Benson's injury.
"I had a chance to visit with Cedric about this, that it doesn't affect him — zero," Lewis said. "This was under way last week, so Cedric (being injured) in the game had no effect on this thing."
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- For Steelers, a fight to finish for playoff berth
- Play of nose tackles could have impact on Steelers’ stretch run
- Cut by Steelers, LeGarrette Blount joins Patriots
- Steelers’ Wheaton embraces expanding role
- Rossi: As Blount walked, Porter called
- Steelers notebook: Heinz Field not in play for Bills-Jets
- Steelers rally past Titans for key win
- Steelers Film Session: Sticking with what works
- Steelers’ Mitchell banned from social media
- Steelers notebook: Gay, secondary brace for Saints QB Brees