Sunday, August 27, 2000


Coslet wants better tackling, ball control

By Mark Curnutte
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        The day-after film analysis of the Bengals' 21-13 loss Friday night to the Lions showed coaches again why the three T's — time of possession, turnovers and third-down performance — are important.

        Detroit had the ball for more than 36 minutes, committed no turnovers to the Bengals' two and made good on 10 of 16 third-down attempts. Cincinnati was 6-of-11 on third down.

        The Bengals played without four starters on defense and a projected starter, tackle Tom Barndt, who hasn't played at all in the preseason because of a chest injury. Linebacker Takeo Spikes, end Vaughn Booker and defensive backs Cory Hall and Artrell Hawkins did not play because of various injuries but will be ready for the opener in two weeks.

        “It's got to be better than that,” coach Bruce Coslet said Saturday of the defense. “We held them to 21 points, but they got 400 yards on us. I don't know how many missed tackles we had. You're going to get blocked every now and then, because the other team has some good players, but not on that consistent of a basis.”

        DIAMOND IN ROUGH: Cornerback Robert Bean had seven tackles and deflected a pass Friday night.

        “You could put him as the pleasant surprise of our draft and training camp,” Coslet said of the fifth-round pick from Mississippi State. “He's scrappy. He plays the ball exceptionally well. He's a real find.”

        RUNNING STRONG: Corey Dillon had 45 yards rushing on six carries. He missed the first two preseason games before signing a one-year contract.

        “The key is to get out there, take some hits and knock the rust off,” he said.

        Dillon likes what he sees from the first-team offense.

        “There's room for improvement out of everybody, including myself, but tonight we looked very, very sharp,” he said.

        NO RETURNS: Daniel Pope punted three times for a 34-yard average against the Lions. Two kicks were downed inside the 20.

        “If you look at stats at the end of the year, you got 37-, 38-yard net, you're doing pretty good,” said Pope, who punted and held as a rookie for Kansas City last season and beat Brad Costello for the Bengals' job this season. “There weren't any returns, but I'm capable of better than that.”

        Pope holds for kicker Neil Rackers, who missed two field goals and an extra point. “I told him on the bench, "You're going to have more ups and downs this year than you're ever imagined. I went through it last year,'” Pope said.

        “He's got to learn to deal with it and stay even keel, which he will.”

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