Cincinnati Bengals: Team Notes

--Despite the public enthusiasm surrounding Lewis, the number of tickets distributed for the Bengals' preseason game Saturday night were the fewest of the seven played by the team since moving into Paul Brown Stadium.<br><br>

The announced attendance for the preseason game against the Lions was 39,956 - the first time the Bengals have fallen beneath the 40,000 mark in the preseason at the taxpayer-funded stadium. The previous low came in the 2002 preseason home finale against Atlanta, 40,530.

--Chad Johnson wants to go where only one wide receiver has gone before, and he says he needs his coaches to help him get there. Johnson, the talkative, energetic third-year Bengals wide out, has set a goal of 1,800 receiving yards for the 2003 season. The only receiver in the 83 years of the NFL to have 1,800 receiving yards in a season is Jerry Rice. He had 1,848 with San Francisco in 1995.

"I don't care if it's cursing, fussing, I need them to get me on that page to perfection on every down," Johnson said. "It all starts with my weakness, blocking, I need to be a blocker first and everything else is going to come - route depth, discipline, sights, hot reads, all that, being able to read the defense. The consistency is there, but it's not where it needs to be to reach 1,800."

--A new training camp contract between the Bengals and Georgetown College could be announced as early as Monday or Tuesday, Aug. 19 or 20. The two sides continue to hold talks regarding a possible deal for the Bengals to return to the college for training camp. The initial seven-year contract expires this year.

Both sides are believed to want a new deal in place before the Bengals break camp Thursday. The combination scrimmage-mock game on Aug. 1 and 2 drew an estimated 15,000 fans, roughly the same number that attended camp in all of 2002.

--Coach Marvin Lewis compares starting quarterback Jon Kitna to two quarterbacks he coached with earlier in his NFL career. As linebackers coach in Pittsburgh, Lewis saw Neil O'Donnell lead the Steelers to the AFC Championship in 1995 before losing to Dallas in the Super Bowl. As defensive coordinator in Baltimore, Lewis watched Trent Dilfer take the Ravens to the Super Bowl title over the Giants.

"The most successful teams I've been around have had quarterbacks who people would say are not the prototypical NFL passing quarterback," Lewis said. "They were more in the lines of a Jon Kitna. I know you can be very successful if you just take care of your job."

"It's how the team responds and plays with you and for you and how you make the plays when the game is on the line. That's how you are defined as a quarterback."

--Despite their poor record on the field, the Bengals have managed in the past few years to find undrafted rookies who become productive players. Fullback Chris Edmonds and linebacker Armegis Spearman are two such players.

This year's long-shot rookie could be cornerback Terrell Roberts, who played opposite fourth-round draft pick Dennis Weathersby in the Oregon State secondary. Roberts had a 50-yard kickoff return against the Jets.

"I'm very confident that I'm a very good football player and try to exhibit that on the field when I'm given the opportunity," said Roberts, who returned three punts and three kickoffs at the Meadowlands. Roberts is a 5-feet-10, 197-pound cornerback who played in 45 career games with the Beavers.

--Peter Warrick was excused from the Aug. 16 game against the Lions because of the death of his grandfather in Florida.

--Legendary defensive coordinator Buddy Ryan attended a recent training camp practice and was especially interested in one of his former players, Bengals defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier.

"He was smart (as a player)," said Ryan, who coached Frazier with the Chicago Bears. "That will help him in the coaching business."

Ryan predicted that the influence of Frazier and Lewis would be seen in the Bengals defense by mid-season. "You'll see improvement every week and, hopefully, by the middle of the season, they'll be clicking on all cylinders and they'll have a winning season - for a change," Ryan said.

--Middle linebacker Kevin Hardy, in his first season with the Bengals, has not only replaced Takeo Spikes in the lineup but also as the spokesman for the defense.

After the Game 2 preseason victory, Hardy said, "You've got to caution yourself about patting yourself on the back too soon. This is the preseason. You don't see everything from other offenses. One thing I can say about this defense is, each week, it's improving. It wasn't long ago that we were in the mock game and the scrimmage and our offense just went through us. We remember how that felt."

QUOTE TO NOTE: "That was the first time I had actually been out on the field. It's a gorgeous stadium, and I'm going to enjoy playing in it. I can't wait until there is a bunch of people in there and the place is rocking." - Carson Palmer, on playing his first game in Paul Brown Stadium.

STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL

--In moving linebacker Adrian Ross into the starting lineup ahead of Steve Foley (Battle of the Week), Lewis continued to illustrate that very few players are locked into jobs.

"Right now, Adrian is doing a better job of executing what we need done," Lewis said. "I keep saying the same thing repetitively - we're going to play the guys who are the best players and get done what we have to get done."

BATTLE OF THE WEEK: Strongside linebacker, where Adrian Ross was moved ahead of Steve Foley into the starting lineup for the second preseason game. Ross, who was on the trading block in March, lost 15 pounds during the offseason to improve his speed, quickness and stamina.

"I'm just trying to make the best of the opportunity," said Ross, a former Bengals starter when the team played a 3-4 defense.

Foley is coming back from a season-ending shoulder injury suffered in the 2002 preseason.

OTHER BATTLE FRONTS: Seventh-year defensive end Reinard Wilson, a former first-round pick, is fighting for the last of eight spots on the defensive line. He is being challenged by two draft picks, end Elton Patterson and tackle Langston Moore, both of whom have played well in camp and preseason games.

PLAYER OF THE WEEK: Rookie quarterback Carson Palmer was 7-for-7 passing for 97 yards and two touchdown passes in the Bengals' 23-10 victory over Detroit. His passer rating was a perfect 158.3. Palmer almost missed the game because of a partially torn tendon in his right foot. He hurt the plantar fascia in the preseason opener against the Jets on Aug. 10 and missed the last three practices at training camp. Palmer is 19-for-29 passing for 237 yards, three touchdowns, two interceptions, and a 96.5 passer rating in the preseason.

ROOKIE REPORT: Second-round pick Eric Steinbach opened the hole for tailback Brandon Bennett on a 21-yard run against the Lions. ... Third-round pick Kelley Washington made his NFL debut and had two receptions for 12 yards, taking a hard hit in the upper body that tested his surgically repaired neck. ... Fourth-round pick Jeremi Johnson, a fullback, had a 2-yard touchdown catch from Carson Palmer. ... Fifth-round linebacker Khalid Abdullah led the Bengals with seven tackles on defense against the Lions.

INJURY REPORT: TE Matt Schobel (hamstring) continues to practice after missing almost 10 days of training camp. He did not play against the Lions. Wide receiver Ron Dugans and cornerback Jeff Burris (both with Achilles tendonitis) were game-time scratches. The Bengals had just five players missing because of injury for the second preseason game.

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