Cincinnati Bengals defensive end Michael Johnson returned to practice Monday for the first time since injuring his right knee, taking part in some light position work and stretching during the period of practice that was open to the media.
Johnson crumpled to the ground midway through the third practice of training camp Aug. 2, but he avoided the season-ending disaster of an ACL tear and instead was diagnosed with a strained MCL.
At the time Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis said at the time he thought Johnson would have a chance to be ready for the opener.
Asked again Monday if he thought Johnson could play Sunday in Oakland, Lewis said “We’ll see.”
Also returning to practice Monday were cornerbacks Darqueze Dennard and Leon Hall, linebacker Emmanuel Lamur and running back Rex Burkhead as everyone on the 53-man roster was working.
The Bengals will not release their first official injury report until Wednesday.
Open discussion: Lewis made it clear he is well aware that the Bengals are opening the season on the road for the sixth year in a row. And while he admitted there are challenges that come along with that, he said he isn’t too bothered by it.
“I think it’s the way the Reds schedule has fallen,” Lewis said. “They’ve ended up being home, corresponding to the first weekend of our regular season, so we decided not to go forward and challenge that. Contrarily, we get a chance, generally, to finish at home, so I like that. I’ll take that trade.”
Asked if he can even remember the last time the team opened at home, Lewis laughed and said, “I can remember the last defensive snap when we opened at home.”
That was when Denver won 12-7 after quarterback Kyle Orton connected with wide receiver Brandon Stokley for a 87-yard touchdown pass that was tipped by Bengals cornerback Leon Hall with 11 seconds remaining.
The score came 27 seconds after Cedric Benson had given the Bengals a 7-6 lead with a 1-yard touchdown run.
“That I can remember,” Lewis said. “I don’t remember any of the positives.”
Sunday will mark the sixth anniversary of that memorable play.
New number: Bengals linebacker Chris Carter had a short to-do list after learning he made the team’s 53-man roster. 1.) Call the family. 2.) Go out to eat to celebrate. 3.) Find a new number to wear.
“With 49, I never got a choice in that,” Carter said of the number he wore during the preseason. “A lot of football players agree that your number gives you a different type of confidence about yourself. If you look good, you feel good, you play good. You know, the old Deion Sanders quote.
“I like how 51 looks,” he added. “It fits my body type more.”
The No. 51, which had been Jayson DiManche’s until he was placed on season-ending Injured Reserve on Saturday, is assigned to linebackers. The Bengals still list Carter as a linebacker even though he made the team based primarily on what he was able to do as a defensive end.
During Monday’s portion of practice that was open to the media, Carter was working solely with the defensive line.