Chad Johnson has changed his name, but it’s his game that remains the far bigger question.
So far, coach Joe Philbin is satisfied.
“I like what I’ve seen,” Philbin told the media on Wednesday. “I like the energy that he brings. I think he’s caught the ball well. I think even in tight quarters he’s caught the ball well. I did notice a couple routes in the one-on-one that he ran today against press coverage that he kind of can put the stops on, put the breaks on at about 12 or 14 [yards]. He’s made some contested catches that you like.”
Philbin admits that it’s still early.
“Time will tell,” Philbin said. “I don’t necessarily have . . . we don’t have as a staff, A, he’s got to catch X amount of passes and gain X amount of yards. We don’t really have the team set yet. We’re not at that stage of game plans certain plays for certain people, but I do like what I see.”
And while it’s clear that Chad likes the fame, Philbin also thinks the player still is a fan of the game.
“He likes football,” Philbin said. “This guy likes football a lot. He’ll pop in. I don’t know if he’s said anything overly funny. I mean he comes up to our meetings sometimes. He just wants to hang around. He’s a little bit of a gym rat in that regard, which is good. You know, you like players that like the game and he wants to know [more about the game]. He’s not afraid of being coached. He has an opinion about a thing or two, which is good. I think that’s good for players to have an opinion on some of that stuff.”
So Philbin likes what he sees of Johnson and Johnson likes football. The only thing Philbin apparently doesn’t like is Johnson’s black nail polish.
“He probably should have used a light blue or something,” Philbin said, laughing.
If Johnson can produce, we get the feeling that Philbin won’t care what Johnson does with his fingernails, toenails, hair, piercings, tattoos, or anything else.