What's Up With Rudi?

RB Rudi Johnson could play at Indy

As the Bengals head into their preseason finale Thursday night at Indianapolis, rumors abound that the team is looking to trade RB Rudi Johnson. How much truth is there to those reports and what about the health of the rest of the team less than two weeks before the regular season opens?

Chad Johnson spent most of the offseason seeking a trade out of Cincinnati but it could be a different Johnson the Bengals part with in the near future.

Head coach Marvin Lewis declined to confirm or deny reports that the team has had exploratory trade talks with teams regarding running back Rudi Johnson but Johnson was more forthcoming with his feelings on the matter Tuesday after the Bengals finished practice in preparation for Thursday night's preseason finale at Indianapolis.

"I could be gone any minute now," said Johnson. "I'm just waiting on the call, looking at the clock. That's all. So you know, it is what it is. Nothing's surprising, though. Keep it moving."

Johnson has not played in any of the team's three preseason games due to a hamstring injury he suffered the first week of training camp. He has returned to practice this week and could see some playing time against the Colts. Chris Perry remains the starter ahead of Johnson.

"It's out there, so evidently it's true," said Johnson. "It doesn't bother me one way or the other. I'm still going to do the same thing. It's part of the business, so I'll let it be… It's always something every year. They've been trying to get me out of here for a long time now. So, it's not surprising at all, it doesn't surprise me one bit."

Lewis declined to comment on the rumors surrounding Johnson.

"He's still working to fight for a job, just like everybody else is," said Lewis. "It's rumor and even though I screwed up my policy of that this springtime it really makes no sense for me to confirm or deny anything at any point in time until something is done one way or another with a player. Somehow I lost track of that this year and Jack (Brennan, director of Bengals public relations) reminded me of that I screwed that up. That's the time of the year it is and everybody is a rumor right now."

The Bengals originally planned for quarterback Carson Palmer to sit against the Colts because of the short four-day span in between games but the broken nose Palmer sustained against New Orleans last Saturday sealed that decision. He is wearing a protective plastic guard across the bridge of his nose and has an appointment with doctors on Friday to finish up his treatment.

"I feel better than I look," said Palmer, speaking with reporters for the first time since the injury. He suffered the injury late in the second quarter when former Bengals safety Kevin Kaesviharn and defensive end Bobby McCray teamed up for the third sack of the half against Palmer. Palmer stayed in the game for the final two offensive plays of the half before heading to the locker room.

"I just got kind of hit in a weird position," said Palmer. "The helmet came down. Either that or I got a fist in the facemask, not really sure how it happened. But it's part of the game."

Wide receiver T.J. Houshmandzadeh should play to some extent against the Colts after he, like Rudi Johnson, returned to practice this week following a hamstring injury.

"My body is saying that I'm fine. I knew that but I just had to make sure of it," said Houshmandzadeh. "I knew I would but there is always doubt with something like that."

Houshmandzadeh tied with New England's Wes Welker for the NFL lead with 112 receptions last season but he and Chad Johnson have both been slowed by injuries this preseason. Chad Johnson began training camp on the sideline as he finished rehabbing from ankle surgery. He later suffered a shoulder injury in a 27-10 loss against Detroit on Aug. 17 when he took a hit from Lions cornerback Brian Kelly and fell hard to the ground.

Safety Dexter Jackson won't play Thursday due to a left ankle sprain suffered in practice Monday. Lewis said the hope is that Jackson will be ready to practice Monday when the team begins in earnest its preparations for the season opener at Baltimore on Sept. 7. The Bengals also expect to have defensive end Antwan Odom back at practice.

"This time and this week is to get guys healthy and back," said Lewis. "I think playing the Thursday game hits us at a good spot this year because it gives us a couple of days, an extra day before the final cut and an extra day to be on the mend prior to the Sunday (opener) game. It works out pretty good. We've had another good week and I see some of the younger guys, particularly the draft pick players, progressing well, which is what we want to see. Unfortunately, two of them (Andre Caldwell and Pat Sims) are injured. But the guys that are out there and practicing are making some strides, and that's a good thing."

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