CINCINNATI -- Chad Johnson winced when he got up from his locker Monday and walked stiffly into the trainer's room, showing the effects of a strained neck suffered during the Cincinnati Bengals' latest loss.
Coach Marvin Lewis said the Pro Bowl receiver could play Sunday in Baltimore, assuming the neck continues to heal.
"He's fine," Lewis said.
Sure didn't look it. Or sound like it.
Johnson was hit by Buffalo's Donte Whitner while he tried to make a diving catch during the closing minutes of a 33-21 loss that left the Bengals stranded at 2-6. Johnson lay on his chest for several minutes, and was carted off the field as a precaution.
A test at a Buffalo hospital found no serious injury, and Johnson flew back to Cincinnati with the team. He was in the locker room on Monday, but declined to talk to reporters, shaking his head before getting up with that wince and slowly walking away.
The silence had more to do with bruised feelings. Johnson has declined interviews for the past two weeks, miffed by suggestions that his antics have become a distraction to his sinking team.
Receiver T.J. Houshmandzadeh, one of Johnson's closest friends on the team, accompanied him to the hospital after the game Sunday. Houshmandzadeh said Johnson made jokes during the trip, reassuring him that the injury wasn't serious.
"When we were in the ambulance, I kind of assumed he was going to be all right because of the way he was talking and stuff," Houshmandzadeh said Monday. "He was just joking around. Nothing in particular, just saying little dumb, corny jokes. But just for him to say that kind of stuff at that moment, I knew he was going to be all right."