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Johnson emerging as elite WR

GEORGETOWN, Ky. -- Five observations on the Cincinnati Bengals, based on training camp practices:


1. Chad Johnson exploded into a Pro Bowl wide receiver by catching 90 balls for 1,355 yards, and he looks even quicker and better than a year ago. He explodes into his slant routes, but more impressive is his hands. He snatches everything out of the air, rarely dropping anything. He's emerging into one of the hottest young receivers in football and will make Carson Palmer's transition to the starting quarterback job much easier. Add in Peter Warrick and Kelley Washington and the Bengals have a ton of talent at wide receiver.

2. Middle linebacker Nate Webster is clearly the Bengals best offeason addition. He brings speed and play-making ability to the position. The former Buccaneer backup also impressed Marvin Lewis with his knowledge of defenses and how hard he studies. Lewis has admired Webster since he was at the University of Miami.


3. Lewis likes what he sees so far from cornerback Deltha O'Neal, whom he acquired in a trade from the Broncos. Still, critics will have to wait until the regular season to see if this is a good fit. O'Neal gambled too many times on interceptions, leaving him a liability in man-to-man situations in Denver. But Lewis believes he can coach O'Neal up and make him more dependable.

4. An area of concern might be backup defensive tackle. The Bengals are solid for starters with John Thornton and Tony Williams. Langston Moore, a draft choice from a year ago, is raw, but the coaches like his promise. Greg Scott knows Lewis' system from when they worked together with the Redskins. But an injury to a starter could be disastrous if those youngsters aren't ready. Remember, the Bengals looked at signing Warren Sapp and Daryl Gardener during the offseason.

5. Willie Anderson is a Pro Bowler. Left tackle Levi Jones is solid but he's sidelined because of facial injuries suffered during a pre-training camp car accident. Jones should practice soon, but tackle is a thin position. Alex Sulsted and rookie Stacy Andrews are the backups. The Bengals need 16 games from Anderson and Jones.

Senior writer John Clayton covers the NFL for ESPN.com.