Thursday, August 26, 1999

BENGALS NOTEBOOK


Stephens AWOL from 2nd practice

The Cincinnati Enquirer

        GEORGETOWN, Ky. — It's not easy to lose somebody as big as Jamain Stephens, but the Bengals couldn't find him Wednesday.

        Stephens, a 6-foot-5, 330-pound offensive tackle, was excused by coach Bruce Coslet from the morning practice so he could attend to personal business. Stephens was expected back for the afternoon session but did not show up.

        The coaching staff did not have an explanation for the absence by the time practice began, although it was possible Stephens attempted to call and could not get through. There were problems with the phone system at the training camp complex Wednesday afternoon.

        The team was waiting to hear from Stephens before making a decision about how to react to his absence, but it did not help his attempt to make the team.

        Stephens has been the No.2 left tackle in the Bengals camp behind Rod Jones, but that is partly because of the neck injury that has kept veteran Kevin Sargent out of action. Sargent will not play Saturday against Buffalo.

        FOOT FAULT: Nose tackle Kimo von Oelhoffen watched Wednesday's practice from the sideline, most of the time leaning on a pair of crutches in order to rest a sprained foot. He was injured in Tuesday afternoon's practice.

        Although von Oelhoffen is considered doubtful to play Saturday against Buffalo, Coslet is not worried his absence will be extended.

        POSITION WATCH: What to do with Ki-Jana Carter?

        He missed the first two preseason games with a ruptured cyst at the back of his right knee, but Coslet still has designs on him making a serious contribution this season.

        Carter is considered probable for the Buffalo game. He missed 15 games last season with a broken wrist and has played 32 games in four years because of a variety of injuries.

        “I'd like to feature him,” Coslet said. “I'd like to have him and Corey in the backfield at the same time. That would allow us to do a lot of things.

        “We could flank him out, basically ... be isolated on linebackers and safeties, things like that. Much like in the old days we did with (James) Brooks.”

        Coslet also would like to use him in goal-line situations. In 1997, playing with a shoulder injury, he scored seven touchdowns. He had nine the year before. On 221 career carries, that's a touchdown every 14 attempts.

        “We like him as a player,” Coslet said. “He's always played well when he's physically right. But that's been his problem. He can't stay healthy.”

        ROOKIE WATCH: The Bengals at last have four quarterbacks in camp, but that does not mean they necessarily have to get rid of one when the season begins.

        It is possible they could keep rookie Scott Covington on the practice squad.

        “That's always a possibility,” Coslet said. “We did that with Eric (Kresser).”

        Covington, drafted in the sev enth round out of Miami (Fla.), has completed 10-of-18 passes for 67 yards in the two exhibitions, compared to 6-of-14 for Kresser. Coslet said the battle for the position is a toss-up.

        “It's like any other position: production,” Coslet said. “You have to produce in practice, too. When you get into that competition, a lot of it has to do with how they prepare, how they are with the other guys, how they do in practice, what you think their potential is — and obviously how they perform in the preseason games.”

        INJURY REPORT: With two days of practice left before the Buffalo preseason game, the Begans listed wideout Quincy Jackson as questionable with a right knee sprain.

        Jackson joined center Rod Payne (knee) and wideout Craig Yeast (ankle) in that category.

        Running back Ki-Jana Carter (knee), defensive end John Copeland (hamstring), tight end Steve Bush and punter Brad Costello (hip) are considered probable.

        Cornerback Ric Mathias (knee), safety Kelvin Moore (neck), tight end Damian Vaughn (hand) and fullback Nick Williams (ankle) will not play.

       



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