Welcome aboard, LJ

The Bengals are expected to announce, perhaps as soon as Tuesday, that they have added a little extra depth to the running back position, by way of the signing of recently released running back Larry Johnson.

Very seldom have the Bengals faithful been so excited while also very apprehensive. Is the pending addition of Johnson a positive move, or a negative one?

The positives:

1. Depth–The Bengals demonstrated one thing in Sunday’s win over the Steelers: Benson is invaluable. He is probably even irreplaceable. After Benson was knocked out of the game with his hip injury, Bernard Scott and Brian Leonard were able to keep the clock running to ice the game, but the combo isn’t what the team wants to rely upon for sixty minutes.

Johnson has a reputation as a tough, punishing runner. Should Benson have to sit out against some of the Bengals’ lesser opponents, Johnson would be a fine grinder to soften up defensive lines for Scott and Leonard.

2. Experience–Johnson is no rookie looking to make a mark. He finished his career in Kansas City just a few yards shy of Priest Holmes’ team record for yards gained. Johnson knows how to run, and he knows the AFC West, against which the Bengals have three games left this season.

3. Hunger–Johnson could very well be another Benson from the perspective that he is down and most are counting him out. He is looking forward to a chance to show that he is still an elite back. That desire to prove something can oftentimes provide a little extra gas in the tank.

The negatives:

1. Injuries–Johnson has a history of injuries after seasons of being run to death by the Chiefs. He has never regained his old form, although the Chiefs haven’t exactly surrounded him with the offensive line to help him do just that. It remains to be seen if  his body has recouperated enough to be able to contribute meaningfully.

2. Attitude–It sucks, what can one say? His recent dismissal from one of the worst teams in the NFL, whether it was due to his use of homophobic terms, or whether it was due to a desire to protect Priest Holmes’ record, or something else all together, leads one to see Johnson as just another misfit and thug the Bengals are trying to salvage on the cheap.

3. Expectations–Marvin Lewis went out of his way Monday to make it clear that Cedric Benson is and will be the man in the backfield and that LJ is merely an insurance policy that will seldom be activated for duty. Will this be good enough for Johnson? At his age and at this stage of his career, he will want to use the rest of this season to prove his worth to another team for next season. He can’t do that if he’s on the inactive list. Will this create a sense of urgency that will ultimately cause Johnson to grow disgruntled, even on a first-place team?

Bottom line:

Time will tell if this acquisition is a good one, should it transpire. The positive that comes out of this is that Mike Brown isn’t just sitting around, taking his chances with what he has in hopes of holding things together until Benson patches up. He’s being proactive. He’s acting like a team owner that wants to win.

And to that, we can all say, “Who Dey?”

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Tags: Cedric Benson Cincinnati Bengals Larry Johnson

  • david

    Damn greg! We’re already stepping all over each other! LOL! Welcome aboard!

  • gregstephens

    Sorry about that. LOL. Seems to be the big topic of the day. Not sure why. Anyway, glad to be here, and you’ll see me much more often.

  • david

    And an official, and hearty, welcome, to Greg, former Bengals Examiner writer. Between him, Nate (hello, Nate, you still there???) and myself we hope to give you some great Bengals coverage as we head toward the playoffs…and…dare I hope…no, not even gonna say it…yet!

  • tastyfreeze

    I think LJ is going to take full advantage of this opportunity. KC was holding him back with their perpetual rebuilding. LJ is not such a bad guy at all. I’ve been keeping up with him on this site lockerblogger.com. By the way, Cincy is looking great right now with Oakland, Cleveland, and Detroit standing in their way the next few weeks.

  • Scott

    Homophobic? Really? Is that real? Are there a bunch of dudes walking around secretly hoping they don’t get turned on by another guy and discover they are really gay?

    Nice site but please spare me the mindless politically correct garbage.

    Not everyone thinks it’s okay to be gay. Not my original idea, it’s mentioned in the best selling book of all time… the Bible.

    Sorry had to vent.

  • KTown

    Yes, roll out the red carpet for Larry Johnson. Incidentally, you just signed a player who was hated by every single one of his teammates in Kansas City, who cares about no one but himself, who has no ability at all to be self-reflective, who Herm Edwards, Todd Haley and even Dick Vermeil came to be disgusted by, who has never grown up and wallows in his infancy, who likes to slap women around, who has no self-control, who left Penn St. behind with only his father missing him. Who cares what he said; look at what he’s done and to those who have known him and come to hate him. Congrats again Cincy.

  • http://stripehype.com David

    Yep. And he was all those things in KC, yet somehow not only was he there for many years and many coaching and front office regimes — but he even got a big-bucks extension to boot. That’s the NFL. Don’t like it? Then there’s other things with which to occupy your time.