Thursday, September 21, 2000

Smith wants harder practices


“We need to .... take practice a lot more seriously”

By Mark Curnutte
The Cincinnati Enquirer

[tucker]
Akili Smith practices Wednesday as Bruce Coslet watches.
(AP photo)
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        Second-year quarterback Akili Smith hinted Wednesday that the Bengals are practicing like they play -- not well.

        “I'm going to change today as far as the practice tempo,” Smith said at Paul Brown Stadium before the afternoon practice. “We need to speed everything up in practice a little bit more and take practice a lot more seriously than what we've been doing.

        “Something has to change, and it has to start in practice. We've got to practice harder.”

        The 0-2 Bengals, who have been outscored 37-7, will play Sunday at Baltimore.

        “I've been thinking about that since the last game,” said Smith, who was intercepted twice in Sunday's 13-0 loss at Jacksonville.

        “I was watching (Jaguars quarterback) Mark Brunell as he was going through the game last week. Every time I looked at the replay (scoreboard) and looked back, they were breaking the huddle. And that's the type of tempo you've got to have. That starts in practice.”

        Bengals coach Bruce Coslet said practices are productive and are sometimes slower by design.

        “If that will help Akili, maybe he needs to do it,” Coslet said of increasing practice tempo. “It can't hurt. Our practices have been real good.

        “Practice is a learning situation. And when you're in a classroom setting, you don't want to be too fast. You want to take time to explain things and teach. That's what we are, teachers. To an extent, that would be good it it carried over into the game. But for learning purposes, that's not so good. On Sunday, the tempo has to certainly be there.”

        Coslet also was asked about the effective up-tempo pace that quarterback Boomer Esiason had when he ran the Bengals offense.

        “You didn't see Boomer his first couple of years,” Coslet said. “He couldn't even get them in and out of the huddle. You've got to compare apples to apples. (Esiason) could do that when he was an eight-, nine-, 10-year veteran.”

        The Bengals' 31/2-point average is the worst in the NFL. Smith has the league's second lowest quarterback rating — 40.4 — better than only San Diego's Ryan Leaf. Tennessee's Steve McNair has a 45 rating.

        “We're 0-2 going into this third game and trying to figure out what the problem is,” Smith said. “For me, I have to pick it up in practice. And I've got to get a better tempo with my offense, get a better tempo with Pete (Warrick). Those guys got to catch the ball, hustle back to the huddle. CD (Corey Dillon) runs all the way down the field. He's got to hustle all the way back.

        “Let's pick it up in practice. Then in the game it will be a lot easier.”

       



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