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Chad Being Chad


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CINCINNATI -- Quarterback Carson Palmer is muddling through his rehab. Running back Chris Perry is just starting his. The offensive line is in flux.

No matter. Pro Bowl receiver Chad Johnson insists that the Cincinnati Bengals will not only win their division this season, but they'll also dominate it.

"We're going to be good," Johnson said Wednesday, following a workout at Paul Brown Stadium. "Anyone else that feels we're not going to dominate the AFC North this year, something's wrong.

"Look at the numbers. Look at the players. Look at me. What else could I say?" he said.

His tone was mirthful, his point serious. The Bengals have a much tougher challenge ahead this time around, but they're convinced that they're up to it.

As long as Palmer is back, that is.

Palmer tore ligaments and other tissue in his left knee during a first-round playoff loss to Pittsburgh, which finished second in the AFC North but went on to win the Super Bowl. Palmer is hoping to be back for the start of the season, but the odds favor a later return.

"Carson says he'll be back Week 1 -- we'll be good," Johnson said.

If not, newcomer Anthony Wright will have to lead the team through one of its toughest schedules in years -- much tougher than last season's when the Bengals went 11-5.

The Bengals won't know until training camp whether there's a realistic chance that Palmer can play early in the season. He didn't have much to say about his recovery from reconstructive surgery on Wednesday.

"Everything's going great," he said. "It's a long, slow process, and I'm moving along. As the rehab moves along and the leg gets stronger and better, I can do more things."

While Palmer talked about his comeback, Perry was on the other side of the locker room getting started on his own. Perry, the team's first-round draft pick out of Michigan in 2004, had his right knee cleaned out on Friday. He expects to be ready for training camp.

The knee bothered Perry last season, but tests couldn't detect the debris that doctors eventually found inside the knee.

"It's always a relief to know what's bothering you," he said, still unable to put full weight on the leg.

The Bengals' defense was their downfall last season, giving up an average of 30 points over the last eight games. They drafted defensive players with four of their first five picks over the weekend -- cornerback Johnathan Joseph, defensive linemen Frostee Rucker and Domata Peko and linebacker A.J. Nicholson.

Chad's talking himself into a hole if Palmer's rehab isn't fast enough. Always good to hear from the Smack Talk Extraordinare though.

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