He'd checked the "No" column next to all of them, as in "No, they could not cover me."
At the bottom of the list was Deshea Townsend, and when Johnson was told yesterday that Townsend probably won't play Sunday because of injury, he became upset.
"You're hurting my feelings right now," Johnson told Pittsburgh reporters via conference call. "Seriously, is he down?"
Townsend is doubtful with a hamstring injury. Why?
"He's their veteran leader," Johnson said. "He's someone that I've faced on a consistent basis for the past two or three years. He makes me play at the top of my game and now you're telling me he's not playing."
Townsend still hopes to play Sunday, and said he'll try to practice today. Otherwise, Johnson, the Bengals' deep threat, will be double and triple-teamed by the likes of Willie Williams, Bryant McFadden and Chidi Iwuoma, with Chris Hope over the top.
"In that situation," Johnson boasted, "I have some things that I've been working on to beat three people."
Johnson's braggadocio has become part of his weekly routine. He likes to talk about what he's going to do in the end zone after a touchdown, but yesterday begged Pittsburgh reporters to give him a new idea.
"What do you want to see?" he asked.
But the reporters whiffed under pressure; they had nothing.
So Johnson, who'd bragged last summer that no one in the Steelers' secondary could cover him, didn't perform up to expectations yesterday. Who was monitoring his conversation?
"Nobody," he said. "I'm in here all by myself. That's why I asked you guys what did you want to see. Whatever someone says, I will do."
Steelers fans might have some ideas.
The Bengals allowed Johnson to speak freely to reporters, but they've otherwise tightened their media policies. For instance, players aren't allowed to do one-on-one interviews this week with TV or radio stations.
"Every time there's a glimmer of success here, we get overrun by things from outside," explained coach Marvin Lewis. "I find myself spending too much time talking about nothing. Let's just do our thing. Where was everybody last week? They weren't here. There's no reason for anybody extra to be here this week. Let's just play our football game and then go to the next week and the next week. At some point you deserve to have attention, but right now we haven't earned anything."
Along with Townsend, those missing practice Wednesday for the Steelers were: CB Ricardo Colclough (shoulder/doubtful), LB Clark Haggans (groin/out), QB Tommy Maddox (right shoulder/questionable), WR Antwaan Randle El (foot/questionable), DE Aaron Smith (back/questionable), WR Hines Ward (hamstring/questionable) and WR Cedrick Wilson (wrist/questionable).
Ward expects to play Sunday; Haggans expects to play the following week.
Missing practice for the Bengals were C Eric Ghiaciuc (ankle/questionable), WR T.J. Houshmandzadeh (hand/questionable), RB Rudi Johnson (knee/probable), TE Tony Stewart (back/questionable) and S Madieu Williams (shoulder/questionable).
The Steelers released guard Jim Jones and defensive end Eric Taylor from the practice squad and signed wide receiver Chris Samp and center Tim Brown.
Jones spent last season on the Steelers' active roster, while Taylor has been on the practice squad the last two seasons. Samp was on the practice squad earlier this season.
Notebook: Chad Johnson seeking ideas
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