Friday, December 14, 2001

Bengals notebook

LeBeau says Smith remains likely to start

By Mark Curnutte
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Bengals quarterback Jon Kitna didn't practice Thursday for a second consecutive day, and Akili Smith again took all of the starter's snaps.

        “It's feeling better, and I'm going to try to practice (today),” Kitna said.

        Kitna saw a doctor Thursday morning to determine if he had any structural damage to his middle finger, which was injured at the end of the third quarter of Sunday's loss to Jacksonville.

        Kitna remains questionable for Sunday's game at the Meadowlands against the New York Jets. He has started the first 12 games, and no decision has yet been made on the starter.

        “The fact of the matter is Jon is hurt and Akili is probably going to play,” coach Dick LeBeau said Wednesday. “We'll prepare as if (Kitna's) not going to be there. We'll see what he feels like (today).”

        TAKEO FLAP:

        Steelers running back Jerome Bettis has said Bengals linebacker Takeo Spikes is as good as Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis but that Spikes doesn't get the attention because he isn't surrounded by as much talent as Lewis.

        Lewis, whose Ravens play host Sunday night to the Steelers, didn't like the comparison.

        “Jerome saying Takeo Spikes is better than me? Let's go find out,” Lewis said Wednesday. “They have to come here in three, four days regardless of what's coming out of their mouths.”

        Spikes reacted good-naturedly to his involvement in the war of words in which he's a silent third party.

        “In such a small media market as Cincinnati, in the past month I haven't said anything, and my name is floating around America,” said the outside linebacker, who leads the Bengals in tackles. “So I guess I must be doing something right down here. My mind is on the Jets right now. I'll worry about that next week.”

        The Bengals will play Dec.23 at Baltimore.

        Bengals H-back Nick Williams played at the University of Miami with Lewis for one season and wasn't surprised by Lewis' comments.

        “Guys from Miami all talk a little trash, especially when we feel we're getting called out,” Williams said.


        Bengals kicker Neil Rackers could face a fourth-degree assault charge in connection to an incident Sunday night at Willie's Sports Cafe in Covington.

        Ken Easterling, chief prosecutor in the Kenton County Attorney Office, said he finds “some merit” in complaints by 27-year-old Brian Stoehr and is awaiting a report from a Covington Police detective who is interviewing witnesses to the alleged assault.

        “We met with the victim, and he has a substantial cut on the side of his head,” Easterling said. “There is probable cause that Mr. Rackers committed assault.”

        The prosecutor also said the investigation should be completed in a couple of weeks, at which point he will make a decision about filing a formal charge against Rackers.

        Rackers told police he was having dinner with his wife and mother and had been verbally abused several times by Stoehrs. Stoehrs allegedly attempted to strike Rackers twice, the second time in a restroom, and Rackers pushed him into a wall.

        “Derogatory comments were made to Neil in the presence of his wife and mother, and Neil exhibited outstanding control, beyond what could be expected of any human being in that kind of situation,” said Philip Taliaferro, a Covington lawyer who is representing Rackers. “Just because someone is a sports star doesn't mean that an individual is free to harass him, particularly in front of his mother.”

        THREE DOZEN:

        The Bengals have lost 35 games in a row on the road to teams with winning records. Sunday, at the 7-5 New York Jets, could be the 36th.

        The last time the Bengals defeated a winning team on the road was Dec.2, 1990, when they topped the 6-5 Steelers at Three Rivers Stadium.

        The Bengals play three of their final games on the road this season and are an NFL-worst 20-73 away from home since the start of the 1990 season.


        Cornerback Tom Carter was waived Thursday from the injured reserve list. Carter had been on IR since Nov.10, due to a partial ligament tear in his right knee.

        Carter was the Bengals' player representative. Safety Darryl Williams will replace Carter as the players' union representative.

        The Bengals also waived offensive tackle Mike Doughty from the reserve/left squad list.


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