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Chad Johnson's next stop: Dawg Pound?

  • By Associated Press
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CLEVELAND -- Chad Johnson kicked off his touchdown-celebration tour Monday night on Cincinnati's sideline, where the Bengals outlandish wide receiver slipped a faux gold Hall of Fame blazer over his shoulder pads.

Canton, he's predicting, will be a final destination.

Until then, next stop: The Dawg Pound.

"I hope I get in there," Johnson said in preparation of Cincinnati's visit on Sunday to Cleveland. "They can give me some popcorn -- throw some beers at me -- whatever they want to do. I'm going to jump in the Dawg Pound."

David Kohl / Associated Press
Chad Johnson made a strong statement when he wore his future Hall of Famer jacket.

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It remains to be seen if anyone will be sitting there.

Even the most die-hard Browns fled early from last week's season-opening 34-7 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers, a humiliating defeat that prompted Cleveland general manager Phil Savage to trade starting quarterback Charlie Frye to Seattle two days later.

The Browns, just 18-39 at home since their 1999 expansion return, are fumbling and bumbling once again.

And now that Frye has been jettisoned, the Browns will start Derek Anderson, their former No. 2 QB who failed to win the starter's job in training camp and was inserted to replace a rattled Frye in the first half last week.

Anderson's future under center could last one play, one quarter or a few games. He'll stay in as long as he's healthy and as long as he's not throwing passes to the opposition. That's when rookie Brady Quinn will get the call from coach Romeo Crennel.

Cleveland fans are already clamoring and chanting for Quinn, Notre Dame's departed star, who could make his regular-season debut against the Bengals.

"There's always a chance a guy can play," Crennel said. "He's only one play away from being in the game."

Expecting, well, at least hoping, to be competitive this season, the Browns barely put up a fight while being pulverized by the Steelers, who capitalized on early turnovers and generous field position to win their eighth straight over Cleveland.

Now, here come the Bengals, licking their lips after getting six turnovers and beating the Baltimore Ravens 27-20 in their opener.

On paper, it doesn't look good for the brown-and-orange against their black-and-orange Ohio brethren.

"We're probably going to have to play the best games of our lives," Crennel said.

There's some confidence, huh?

For Cleveland to have any chance, the Browns, beaten 30-0 by the Bengals last season at home, must do a better job on pass defense after allowing Ben Roethlisberger to throw four touchdowns passes a week ago. Two of those scores came on broken coverage by Cleveland's secondary.

The Browns' No. 1 priority will be trying to contain No. 85, the affable Johnson who, in addition to leaping into the stands, could make a significant jump in the Bengals' record books.

Johnson, whose early Hall of Fame resume includes leading the AFC in receiving yards the past four years, needs 81 yards to tie Isaac Curtis' career club mark (7,101). But although he's on the brink of making team history, Johnson has bigger goals in mind for himself and the Bengals.

"It doesn't mean much," said Johnson, downplaying the significance of catching the speedy Curtis, who also wore 85. "I respect all records that I do achieve. It says a lot about what I've accomplished, what I've worked for since I was young.

"But my focus right now from this point on in my career is getting a ring. That's it. I could care less about the numbers right now. I've done all I can do. My goal coming in here was to get to the Pro Bowl. I've been there. My goal behind that was break a couple of records, set my name in the foundation of this organization. I've done that. My goal now is getting to Arizona (site of this season's Super Bowl), period. That's it. And I will do it by all means necessary."

Johnson has enjoyed modest success against the Browns, scoring six TDs in 12 career games. Cleveland has been able to contain him largely because of cornerback Leigh Bodden, who Johnson calls a friend and "one of the best cover corners in the NFL."

Bodden missed Cleveland's last meeting with the Bengals because of an ankle injury, and could miss Sunday's game because of a groin injury that has hobbled him in practice this week.

"That's one of the best receivers in the league," Bodden said. "To play him twice a year, that's great for me to show where I am as a corner. If I do a good job against him, I can do a good job against any receiver in the league."

Johnson had seven receptions for 123 yards the last time he faced the Browns. However, he didn't score, failing to make good on a previous promise to vault into the Dawg Pound on his last trip to Lake Erie's shoreline.

Devon Holley could start in Bodden's place. Holley was also limited in practice this week after a late hit by Pittsburgh's Hines Ward last Sunday caused him to lose consciousness. Hines was fined $5,000 by the NFL on Friday for unnecessary roughness.

Holley said Friday that he's ready for Johnson, who he covered during Johnson's seven-catch game last season.

"He's smart and he studies the game," Holley said. "Some people think Chad is a trash talker and a bad guy, but he's not. He just loves the game and I love the competitive edge that he plays with."

Bodden says Johnson should go right ahead with his jump into Cleveland's notoriously rowdy bleacher section.

"If he wants to get beaten up," Bodden said.

Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press

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