In the spring, Cincinnati Bengals defensive end Michael Johnson went back to class. On Thursday, he exuded it.
Johnson, who is working toward his degree at Georgia Tech, signed the franchise tag in April that will pay him $11.175 million this season, but he and the Bengals were unable to work out a longer contract before the July 15 deadline.
When asked about the contract issue, Johnson said all the right things.
“I don’t worry about all that stuff,” he said. “It’s really true. I prayed on it, and I just believe that the best situation is going to work itself out. That can’t be a focus at all. I’m going to be here to work every day and I’m going to give everything I have, just like I have from Day 1. Everything else will take care of itself. We’ve got a good thing going here. I’m just thankful to be a part of it.”
Johnson recorded a career-high 11.5 sacks in 2012, one shy of Geno Atkins’ team-high 12.5, leading the team to use the franchise tag on the fifth-year player.
One day after the deadline for an extension passed, the Bengals signed Carlos Dunlap to a five-year extension that will pay him $40 million through 2018.
“I was excited for him,” Johnson said. “He’s done a lot of good things for us since he’s been here. He works hard. He deserves it. I was in a massage actually when it all happened. I got out and had a bunch of text messages and missed calls, and first thing I did was hit him up and congratulate him.
“I knew they wanted to get something done with me, him and Geno (Atkins),” he continued. “It just didn’t work out with me. It is what it is. It’s not going to be a distraction or anything. We’re still going to go out and ball, and when it’s time to take another look at that next year, then we’ll do it.”
Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis said the biggest disappointment in Thursday’s first practice was the number of dropped balls by receivers, and rookie sixth-round pick Cobi Hamilton had the most glaring one on an out route where he was wide open and the ball hit him squarely in the hands.
Friday, Hamilton caught nearly everything thrown his way.
“Dropping a ball sucks, where it’s practice, a game or training camp,” he said. ““I feel much better today, and I know I’ll get better as the days go on. Everything’s still running a little bit fast for me. Once everything slows down, I’m sure I’ll make more plays.”
After the drop, quarterback Andy Dalton immediately went up to Hamilton and gave him an encouraging pat on the helmet.
“You always want the star quarterback to come over and tell you he still has faith in you,” Hamilton said. “Andy’s got good character, and I’m excited to play for him.”
Green-Ellis on Hernandez
Bengals running back BenJarvus Green-Ellis spent four seasons in New England, including two as a teammate of tight end Aaron Hernandez, who currently is in prison charged with murder.
Green-Ellis was asked Friday if he was surprised by the news.
“I think it was shocking to everyone,” he said. “That situation, my heart goes out to both families and hopefully everything turns out the way everyone is OK with, but it’s a trying situation and it’s really sad the way it happened. It’s been a tough offseason for the league in general but we have to move past those things and try to get down to playing football.”
After the Bengals put restrictions on where photographers and videographers could stand to shoot practice, local media members boycotted practice.
After 45 minutes the team agreed to grant sideline access rather than limiting photography to just two small pens in the corner of each end zone.