Monday, February 22, 1999

Bengals dive into free-agent market today




BY GEOFF HOBSON
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        INDIANAPOLIS — The Bengals return home today from the NFL scouting combine looking to get started in the free-agent market.

        The club could get visits this week from a pair of starting safeties, Jacksonville's Chris Hudson and Chicago's Marty Carter, as it tries to replace Sam Shade. Carter, 30, led all NFC defensive backs with 89 solo tackles last season. The Browns and Ravens are also interested in him.

        Cincinnati is also expected to make a move on cornerbacks Ronnie Bradford and Ken Irvin this week. Along with nose tackles Jerry Ball and Oliver Gibson, the Bengals are also taking a look at defensive tackle John Jurkovic.

        No one on either side has ruled out re-signing cornerback Ashley Ambrose after the Chiefs appeared not to be interested in giving him about $4.5 million per year. Ambrose is expected to take a trip to Atlanta on Wednesday, but it's believed the Falcons don't have enough to meet his price and instead will try to woo him with best friend Ray Buchanan and the fact Ambrose would like to live in Atlanta after his playing days.

        COMBINE FACTS: Former Reds' farmhand Darran Hall made news Sunday in the hometown of the Triple-A Reds. Hall, a 5-foot-8, 173-pound wide receiver/returner from Colorado State, had the fastest 40-yard dash time of the at one point in the combine Sunday at 4.33 seconds. Pro Football Weekly's Joel Buchsbaum ranks Hall the 137th prospect in the nation.

        • Georgia cornerback Champ Bailey was asked Sunday to pick the better quarterback. Kentucky's Tim Couch or Tennessee's Peyton Manning: “The best I saw when I played them was Manning because he did more decision-making as far as changing the plays. Couch did a little more of that this year. I don't think he did it as much as Peyton did.”

        For the toughest receiver he covered, Bailey gave the nod to Kentucky's Craig Yeast. “He's quick and Couch getting him the ball makes it harder,” Bailey said.

        • Ohio State cornerback Antoine Winfield, a popular guy in the Bengals' draft room, measured at 5-81/2.

        He had no problem answering the “too short,” questions: “People have been criticizing me my whole life for being short. Well, I'm not going to grow any more.”

        If the Bengals don't take Bailey, Winfield is a possibility if they trade down between Nos.8-14.

        MACK REHABBING: Bengals strong safety Tremain Mack is about to enter a 60-day alcohol rehabilitation program in Hamilton County after serving nearly three months in jail on charges stemming from two DUI arrests.

        If all goes well, he could be released in time for the Bengals' mini-camp at the end of April.

       



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