CINCINNATI — Suddenly, the Cincinnati Bengals need help on offense.
Pro Bowl receiver Chad Johnson strained his left shoulder Sunday night during the Detroit Lions' 27-10 victory over the Bengals, who now have their top two receivers and their starting tailback limited by injuries.
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Johnson landed awkwardly on his left side after cornerback Brian Kelly intercepted a pass thrown his way on Cincinnati's first series. He rolled on the field in pain for several seconds, then went to the locker room for an examination. He did not return.
Coach Marvin Lewis said the shoulder popped out and back into place on the field. Medical tests found no fracture.
“I think he should be ready by the opener,” Lewis said. “Some of these things come back right away, and they're ready to go. A lot of players play with these things.”
The Bengals already were missing Pro Bowl receiver T.J. Houshmandzadeh and running back Rudi Johnson. Both of them have missed the first two pre-season games with hamstring injuries.
Detroit got the better of it in the first quarter, when both teams played their starters.
Jon Kitna had a perfect passer rating of 158.3 for the second straight game. Playing in the stadium where he started the Bengals' resurgence in 2003, Kitna was much better than Carson Palmer, the No. 1 draft pick who took his place in Cincinnati.
Right away, Kitna tested a redesigned Bengals defense that has the cornerbacks aggressively covering receivers. He threw a 40-yard pass to Calvin Johnson on the opening play, letting the receiver beat cornerback Leon Hall on a sideline route.
That drive came up short in part because of an offensive pass interference penalty on Roy Williams. The next time the Lions got the ball, Kitna threw a 27-yard touchdown pass to Johnson, who ran past cornerback Johnathan Joseph for an easy score. Joseph grabbed him as he went by but couldn't slow him down.
“It was just a man coverage, and Jon put it in a perfect spot,” Johnson said. “There was a little contact. Jon's putting it in the right places, and we're running our routes in the right places.”
Kitna completed his three passes — all to Johnson — for 76 yards and a touchdown, leaving him 9-for-10 for 146 yards with a pair of touchdowns in the preseason.
In an ominous sign for the Bengals, Palmer was repeatedly hit as he threw and got sacked once. He was 6-for-13 for 50 yards with the one costly interception. He led Chad Johnson a bit too much, giving Kelly a chance to knock the ball free and grab it in the air.
Palmer was knocked to the ground five times overall.