Hot Topics: Bailey, Johnson matchup looms

Cincinnati Bengals receiver Chad Johnson, who is never shy about baiting opposing cornerbacks, was warm and fuzzy towards Bailey this week. He said he wouldn't imagine trash talking Bailey.

Denver Broncos cornerback Champ Bailey is kind of skeptical this week.

Cincinnati Bengals receiver Chad Johnson, who is never shy about baiting opposing cornerbacks, was warm and fuzzy towards Bailey this week. He said he wouldn't imagine trash talking Bailey.

"Never, never, never, never," Johnson said. "There's some people you have such a high level of respect for, where talking isn't going to affect him anyway."

Johnson said he and Bailey are friends. Bailey said he's talked to Johnson a few times, and would be open to Johnson's suggestion that they have dinner the night before this Sunday's game.

However, Bailey wondered if Johnson had ulterior motives this week.

"I feel like he's hyping me up," Bailey said. "But it's appreciated from a guy of his talent."

The last time Bailey faced Johnson, the Bengals receiver got the best of the matchup. Johnson caught seven passes for 149 yards and a touchdown against Bailey in a 2004 game. Johnson downplayed that game, saying he got lucky.

Bailey hasn't always shadowed the opponent's best receiver this year, but Johnson said that's what he expects this week.

"I would hope he would follow me throughout the whole game," Johnson said. "If I went to the bench, I would hope he would go to the bench with me."

PLAYER NOTES

--Coach Mike Shanahan excused two players from practice Thursday, and several others were late because of a blizzard that hit Denver on Wednesday. The weather forced the team to change many of its preparation plans.

--WR Javon Walker returned to practice Thursday. He has a separated shoulder but it is mild and he should be able to play.

--CB Karl Paymah might not get much playing time on defense this week because Darrent Williams should return from a toe injury. But Paymah made a solid impression, a good step for the second-year corner.

--TE Stephen Alexander will be able to play through rib injuries. He played last week and has practiced all week.

--QB Jay Cutler has played in cold weather games before. He grew up in Santa Claus, Ind., so he is used to some cold weather. A blizzard that hit Denver is supposed to pass by the weekend, but temperatures could still be cool.



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