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Bengals players hoping WR Henry avoids trouble

CINCINNATI -- Chris Henry's return hasn't made much of an impact on his Cincinnati Bengals teammates, who have tried many times already to help the troubled receiver change his life.

Now, they say it's entirely up to Henry to make good on his latest, unexpected chance.

"There's not too much you can do, to be honest with you," receiver T.J. Houshmandzadeh said. "He has to do it himself. That's how I see it. I've talked to him. He knows what he needs to do, and hopefully he'll do it."

Owner Mike Brown gave Henry a two-year contract on Tuesday, undercutting his head coach and undermining his own crackdown on repeat offenders. Brown released Henry after his fifth arrest in the offseason, saying the team was finished with him.

Then, he brought him back despite the objections of coach Marvin Lewis, who had no interest in giving Henry another chance. The move reminded players who's in charge of the Bengals.

"It's the organization's team," quarterback Carson Palmer said after practice Wednesday. "It's their team. They're going to make decisions that they think are best, and Marvin and the players and all the coaches do the best with what we've got."

The decision to bring Henry back can't help the team for some time.

He has to miss the first four games of the season under his latest suspension for violating the NFL's conduct policy. By the fifth game, receiver T.J. Houshmandzadeh and Chad Johnson could be well along in recovering from injuries. Houshmandzadeh has a sore hamstring that kept him out of the first two preseason games, and Johnson sprained his left shoulder last Sunday in a 27-10 loss to Detroit.

Lewis said on Wednesday that Johnson is making a swift recovery and could be ready for the season opener.

"He's doing well," Lewis said. "His goal is to be ready to play when we go to Baltimore, so we'll see. But right now, he's surprisingly doing better than expected."

When the Bengals released Henry, they left themselves without a proven No. 3 receiver. He could fill that role again if he makes it through the first month of the season without getting in trouble.

"I hope he can stay out of trouble and -- not anything about his football career -- just can make it and get through and not have any problems," Palmer said. "It's nice to give somebody a second chance, a third chance. I just hope he makes it."

Given the way Brown has given players extra chances after they got in trouble, Henry's teammates weren't surprised at his latest change of heart.

"To have him back is no surprise as far as the things he's capable of doing," running back Rudi Johnson said. "It's just whether he's willing to go out and do the things he needs to do to be on this team -- that's take care of his business off the field and on the field. Talking to him (on Tuesday), that's where he seems to be at. He's in high spirits and he seems to have learned his lesson."

Houshmandzadeh met Henry before the Bengals drafted him in the third round in 2005 and has tried to mentor him over the years. His reaction to the signing was typical of how it was received in the locker room.

"It's not our team," Houshmandzadeh said. "Mr. Brown can do what he wants to do. I'm happy for Chris that he has this opportunity. Hopefully he makes the most of it."

Notes: WR Marcus Maxwell suffered an undisclosed injury during practice Tuesday night, the team's Web site reported. Lewis declined to confirm the report. The injury further depletes the receiving group. Third-round draft pick Andre Caldwell is sidelined by a sprained right foot. ... Henry didn't practice on Wednesday. The Bengals are trying to get a better idea of his conditioning level before allowing him to work out with the team.

Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press

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