Monday, May 03, 1999

BENGALS NOTEBOOK


Blake ready to hand off

[dillon]
Corey Dillon
(Michael E. Keating photo)

| ZOOM |
        The Bengals have had 100-yard rushers in just two of Jeff Blake's 54 career starts. In 40 of those starts, he's thrown at least 30 passes. So he wouldn't mind throwing it less if it means the running game is firmly established behind him.

        Blake thinks he can because he's finally hooked up with running back Corey Dillon. Blake lost his job in Dillon's rookie year, and the pair have made only three starts together.

        “It's going to make my job a little bit easier,” Blake said. “The way it's been going, I've had to throw for 300 yards if we've got a chance to win. If I'm not on top of my game every week, we're going to struggle. But it's impossible to throw for 300 every game. But if that's what it takes, that's my goal.

        “I've got to have 4,500-5,000 yards passing for us to be where we want to be. I think we can get the running game going. We've got to be at the point if it's less than third-and-5, it's guaranteed we can get (the first down) running.”

        Dillon is all for whatever they decide to do with him.

        “I'm not all that enthused about getting the ball 17 times game. I'm looking for it a little bit more,” Dillon said. “But when you get behind and you have to pass, that's all acceptable. I've got no gripes. It's a team thing. We're all working together.”

        Blake says he's been humbled, but he's also been buffed. He's down 10 pounds to 205, ran 4.7 seconds in the 40-yard dash Saturday (“It will be 4.5 in June”) and led the quarterbacks in the end-of-day gassers Sunday, logging 38 seconds for 212 yards. That was after a morning and afternoon workout.

Kimo agrees
        When the Bengals signed Steelers backup nose tackle Oliver Gibson to take his job, Kimo von Oelhoffen may have been the least surprised guy on the club.

        “I don't blame them. I stunk last year,” von Oelhoffen said. “They had to do what they had to do. Oliver's a good player. If he beats me out or I beat him out, regardless, it's going to be a different story at that position. It's going to be better.”

        It can't get worse. The Bengals were last in the NFL defending the run. Foes racked up 10 100-yard rushing games.

        Von Oelhoffen said his problem last year was what his one weakness has always been: inability to stave off fatigue during games. So he increased his offseason running regimen and returned this past weekend, “in shape I've never been in before.”

        Von Oelhoffen ran in Utah's thin air for about 10 days, as well as putting in as many as two to three miles a day at his home in Kennewick, Wash. When he struggled early last season, von Oelhoffen started running before and after practice and all he did was wear out his legs so he had nothing left on Sunday.

        “It all stems from being tired,” von Oelhoffen said. “The harder I worked, the worse it got. I'm not going to say anything, but watch the conditioning out there.”

This and that
        Right tackle Willie Anderson pleased the coaches by checking in at 340 pounds. He wants to be at 325 pounds on Opening Day, but he's clearly been working out. He came in second among the offensive linemen in the 212-yard run.

        • Gibson left the last practice during gassers with dehydration. Sunday's most significant injury was a sprained ankle to rookie free-agent receiver Geoff Noisy.

        • Saturday's 40-yard dash was run uphill and into the wind, far from ideal conditions. But the fastest 10-yard bursts belonged to rookie receiver Craig Yeast, rookie cornerback Rodney Heath — a Western Hills High product — and linebacker Brian Simmons.

       



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