Chad Johnson makes his first regular-season CFL start, but will he make an impact?

When famed former NFL receiver Chad Johnson first started talking about playing in the CFL early this offseason, it seemed like a long shot. Yes, Johnson had an impressive NFL pedigree, but he turned 36 in January, he'd never played in the Canadian game, he'd been out of football since before the 2012 NFL season, and his 2012 arrest for misdemeanor domestic battery and 2013 jail time for violating his probation meant that his preferred CFL team, the B.C. Lions, opted to pass on him. Johnson managed to land a tryout with the Montreal Alouettes, though, did enough there to earn a contract and a camp invite, and overcame the oddsin camp, impressing enough there to survive cuts and make the final roster. Now he's set to play his first regular-season game Saturday (3 p.m. Eastern, TSN/ESPN2) against the Calgary Stampeders, and he's listed as one of the Alouettes' starting receivers on their depth chart. How much of an impact will "Ochocinco" (or "Huit-Cinq") be able to have in the CFL, though?

It says something about what Johnson has done so far that he was able to not just stay on the roster, but earn a starting spot in a very deep receiving corps. Yes, the Alouettes unexpectedly cut former top receiver Jamel Richardson at the end of the preseason, leaving more positions open than initially expected, but this is still a very deep group. The other three listed starters are wide receiver Duron Carter (who put up 909 receiving yards in a great rookie campaign last year), slotback S.J. Green (1,197 receiving yards last year) and Canadian slotback Dave Stala (an 11-year veteran known for ridiculous catches). They have excellent talent further down the depth chart too, including Brandon London, Eric Deslauriers, Bo Bowling and Larry Taylor. For Johnson to earn a starting spot suggests he's played very well indeed. He only had one catch in the one preseason game he played (he missed the first one thanks to injury), but it was a pretty impressive one:

Adjusting to the CFL can take some time, though, and the conditions aren't exactly perfect for Johnson. While Montreal quarterback Troy Smith (yes, the former Heisman winner) showed great potential in his rookie season last year, he's still adjusting to the CFL, and he completed just 52.6 per cent of his passes in 2013. The Als' offence wasn't exactly clicking in the preseason, where they lost 28-23 and 26-10, and it's already undergone some turnover, with the team electing to fire offensive coordinator Rick Worman in training camp and replace him with former quarterback (and former QB coach) Ryan Dinwiddie. Quick production may not be easy with a passing offence that's struggled so far, and if Johnson doesn't produce quickly, he might lose his starting spot given the Alouettes' deep bench. We'll see how the Ochocinco experiment works out for the Alouettes. It's certainly gotten them a lot of attention, and Johnson's done well enough to make it to the regular season, but will he wind up having a significant impact, or will he be quickly forgotten?