Thursday, September 14, 2006

"Where Ya At, 85???"


BEREA, Ohio -- Kellen Winslow hasn't lost any quickness. On Wednesday, he beat Chad Johnson to the punch.

Before Cincinnati's talkative, touchdown-making, free-spirited wide receiver had a chance to make any bold predictions for Sunday's game between the Bengals and Cleveland Browns, Winslow offered his own guarantee.

"My boy, Bodden, is going to shut him down as he did last year," Winslow said, referring to Browns cornerback Leigh Bodden. "He's the best corner in the league. It's a big challenge for him, but it's also a big challenge for Chad, so tell him that."

So, Chad, whatcha think?

"It's humanly impossible to stop [No.] 85," Johnson boasted during an animated teleconference with Cleveland's media. "You are kind of insulting me. I cannot be stopped. Period."

Hmm. Perhaps Johnson has some selective amnesia.

Because with Bodden blanketing him all over the field during Cincinnati's 23-20 win over Cleveland on Dec. 11 last season, Johnson managed just two catches for 22 yards -- season lows in both categories for the fleet-footed Johnson, who led the AFC in receptions (97) and yards (1,432).

On Wednesday, Johnson blamed blustery conditions at Paul Brown Stadium for his atypical performance. However, during the offseason he had high praise for Bodden, an undrafted free agent from Duquesne who has emerged as one of Cleveland's top players.

On a nationally syndicated radio show, Johnson called Bodden the best cornerback he faced last season.

Trouble was, in doing so, he called Bodden, "Lehigh Bowden."

Bodden didn't take exception with Johnson for butchering his name.

"I was flattered because it's coming from a Pro Bowl guy, a guy who had 1,000 yards and 80, 90 catches," the easygoing Bodden said. "I can't really listen to it because I've just got to do what I do and do what I've been doing and let my play speak."

Nothing, it seems, can stop Johnson from speaking his mind -- on any subject. He again commended Bodden for his coverage, though he went to great lengths to explain his inability to get open for quarterback Carson Palmer and pad his stats against the Browns.

"Regardless as to how many times Carson and I missed on our page, I still give credit to him," Johnson said. "If you want to be realistic about it, he didn't stop me -- but I'm going to give him his credit anyways. That's what I did."

And not suprisingly, Johnson had an answer for Winslow's claim that Bodden will negate Cincinnati's No. 85.

"I can't be stopped, regardless as to what Kellen Winslow says," he said. "If he feels that strongly, that's good. His teammates should have faith in him like that, to feel that he is the best cornerback. I feel that way about my corner. There is nothing wrong with that. You know what I feel? I feel our defense will shut down Kellen Winslow."

Johnson was just getting warmed up.

He got downright testy with a reporter who reminded of a game in Cleveland two years ago, or as Johnson calls it, "The Pepto Game." Days after sending Browns defensive backs bottles of pink Pepto-Bismol because he planned to make them sick, Johnson dropped several passes in a 34-17 loss.

Those weren't the result of good defense, he said, but his own failure.

"Have you ever seen anyone cover me before?" he said. "I have six years' worth of film. Go get all of them and find someone that has stopped me. You saw me drop balls in the Pepto game. Last year, in the second game here, you saw balls all over the place because it was a heavy wind game.

"You didn't see anyone physically stop me, physically knock the ball down, physically jam me at the line or reroute me. Come on now, let's talk football."

As well as Bodden played against him, Johnson had the final say in the Bengals' victory last season.

On Cincinnati's 43-yard drive that set up a game-winning field goal, Johnson drew interference and illegal conduct penalties on Bodden, who had been knocked woozy following a collision with teammate Brian Russell.

"A few plays I didn't remember," Bodden said. "I remember the penalties."

Bodden was asked if the Browns got robbed on the calls.

"It could have went either way," he said. "But they gave it to Chad Johnson, who is a great receiver and I'm nobody, really, so they gave him the call."

On his way out of the locker room, Winslow stopped to make sure Bodden was aware he had been talking him up.

"You know 85?" Winslow said. "Twenty-eight's going to stop him."

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