The disgruntled receiver arrived for the 8 a.m. team meeting. The first practice began at 9:45 a.m. and Johnson was on the field at 9:57.
Johnson didn't run any routes or catch a single pass during the morning practice. But he drew plenty of attention from the assembled media.
"You know what? I'm going to pass on talking about Chad today," quarterback Carson Palmer said. "I think everybody in here is probably sick of hearing about him, and everybody out there is sick of hearing about him. So I'm not going to talk about him."
Bengals coach Marvin Lewis said Johnson expressed to the medical staff that he had an ailment and was unable to participate.
Lewis didn't specify the ailment and added that the team would investigate Johnson's claim.
The Bengals released a statement before the afternoon practice that, to a degree, contradicted Johnson's claims:
"Chad Johnson was given a physical this morning by one of the Bengals' team doctors. He did not report any physical problems to the doctor, and he was cleared by the doctor for practice. Later, after the physical was concluded, Chad told our training staff that his back was sore. He refused to practice."
Johnson's agent, Drew Rosenhaus, who arrived in Cincinnati today to support Johnson, said he was surprised by the Bengals' statement.
Rosenhaus said Johnson has bone chips in his ankle, and Johnson is trying to decide whether he needs to see a specialist and get surgery.
"We talked about it since the end of the season and as recently as today," Rosenhaus said. "That's why Chad is not practicing. His back could be bothering him. I'm not saying that's not the case, but I know for a fact his ankle is."
According to a source, Johnson played most of last season with a bad ankle. The Cincinnati Bengals recommended a clean-out after the season.
The team sent Johnson a document saying he could benefit from the surgery. Rosenhaus and Johnson didn't agree with the Bengals, and therefore refused surgery.
Oddly enough, Johnson passed the team physical several months after the team recommended ankle surgery.
Rosenhaus hinted on Thursday that Johnson is not expected to hold out of training camp.
"Hopefully this thing will get resolved medically," Rosenhaus said. "But he's going to honor his contract and we'll keep dealing with it and see how it works out."
Johnson has been sending mixed signals for the past few weeks on whether he was going to rejoin the team.
He was adamant this offseason about his desire to be traded, but the Bengals did not seriously entertain his requests.
Had he missed this minicamp, he would have been subject to an $8,000 fine.
Johnson declined to speak with reporters on Thursday. T.J. Houshmandzadeh, who is Johnson's closest friend on the team and worked out with him last week, said he's not sure what's going on in Johnson's mind.
"I don't know what he's thinking, I really don't," Houshmandzadeh said. "He called me last night and said he wasn't coming, but I knew he was lying. I was on my way to the airport, so I knew he probably was already here. But I don't know what he's thinking. I don't know. I can't speak for him."
James Walker covers the NFL for ESPN.com. Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.