Even when attending classes and working out at Georgia Tech last month, there was something that always entered back into Michael Johnson’s mind. He wanted to be back in Cincinnati training with his teammates on the defensive line.

With spring semester classes done, Johnson was back in town on May 13 and was on the field last week when OTAs began. From all appearances you couldn’t tell that Johnson had missed any time.

Said coach Marvin Lewis of Johnson: “The stuff we’ve been doing is fine. His conditioning level was where it is supposed to be.”

This spring marked the second time in three offseasons that Johnson had returned to his alma mater to take classes. He is on track to get his degree in business management next year. But even while he was taking three classes and getting himself back in football shape, Johnson admitted that the last month he was in Atlanta was a little difficult.

“I wanted to be back up here. That was real tough. I just was ready to be back to football,” Johnson said. “Everyone had that itch to get back going and working with your teammates, get back to going through football stuff.

“I was working out and stuff, but it’s not the same as when you are with your guys and getting better together. That is why I love football so much, it is the ultimate team sport. It was good to be back.”

Besides taking classes, Johnson also held a technology camp for 100 students from four schools in his hometown of Selma, Ala., last month as part of his foundation. He will host a bowling event on June 8 in conjunction with Most Valuable Kids on June 8 at Princeton Bowl. For more information, go to MostValuableKids.org.

The most important offseason news that people want to know about though is if there has been progress toward securing a long-term deal for Johnson. Both sides have until July 15 to reach one or else Johnson will play on the one-year franchise tag, which is worth $11.175 million. Usually progress isn’t made until late June or early July, but the Bengals have not signed a player to an extension the season they’ve tagged him since Rudi Johnson in 2005.