Sunday, May 05, 2002

Bengals Q&A w/Mark Curnutte

By Mark Curnutte,
The Cincinnati Enquirer

Ask Mark
        With the draft completed, Bengals fans are looking ahead to the regular season.

        Question, from Nick in Philadelphia: Who is the likely starter at tight end now that (Tony) McGee is gone?

        Answer: Second-year man Sean Brewer. But he is going to miss all of minicamp with a slight hamstring tear. He will be out three to four weeks. Rookie Matt Schobel is No. 2 on the depth chart.

        Q, from Doug in Cleveland, Tenn.: If the Bengals defense is a solid Top 10 or Top 5 unit, is there not a strong possibility of losing (defensive coordinator) Mark Duffner after this season? Do you think Mike Brown will offer him the head coaching job if the Bengals fail to make the playoffs?

        A: No. Nobody is saying how many years remain on Dick LeBeau's contract, although Brown has said he expects LeBeau to coach for many years.

        Duffner has head coaching experience at Holy Cross and Maryland and, like LeBeau, a former defensive assistant and coordinator, is respected by players on the other side of the ball.

B E N G A L S   P O L L

Who would you start at QB next season?
OK, pretend Mike Brown and Dick LeBeau have put you in charge of the Bengals. Who would you start at QB next season? Click at the bottom if you just want to view the results without voting.

  Gus Frerotte
  Jon Kitna
  Akili Smith

        Q, from Kelly in Montana: Why do the Bengals continue to spend money on mediocre quarterbacks? They already have three. Scott Covington is the only one in bunch that could actually be a sleeper.

        A: The Bengals have tried to sign proven starters Trent Dilfer and Elvis Grbac. They even offered New England a second-round pick for Drew Bledsoe. They've tried to draft quarterbacks, trade for them and sign them as free agents.

        You're right about Covington, who hasn't been given a legitimate shot and does know the offense.

        Q, from Sam in Zanesville: Even with the recent signing of Gus Frerotte, will the Bengals continue to make moves in the free agent market? With the June 1 deadline approaching, it's almost guaranteed that a few enticing names will be out there.

        A: Without a doubt the Bengals will continue to look at free agents, although they have said a top priority now is to try to extend the contracts of starting linebackers Brian Simmons and Takeo Spikes, the heart and soul of the defense.

        Q, from Greg in Cincinnati: Do you think the Bengals could re-sign both Simmons and Spikes to long-term deals?

        A: Yes, and they have use of either the franchise tag of the transition tag, which give them the right to match offers from other teams and get draft picks as compensation. Conventional wisdom around the Bengals is one of the linebackers will be signed and the other will get tagged.

        Q, from Darryl in Clinton, Miss.: Do you think that Darnay Scott will have a better year now that it's been two years since the broken leg? And with another year under Chad Johnson and Peter Warrick, can we see our receiving corps doing even better -- or is it still going to take a better quarterback before we see truly what they can do?

        A: The receivers improved last season, and they showed what they can do the last two games of the season. And they did it with Kitna.

        Offensive coordinator Bob Bratkowski has said one of the reasons Kitna looked so good the last two games (751 yards passing) is because the players around him were better.

        Scott is having some pain in the shin of the leg he broke and is missing minicamp. He is a true veteran leader and should be even more productive this season, if he is healthy.

        Q, from Erik in Lima: With Mcgee gone because of low production and high price tag, is Scott next or on thin ice? And, with Dorsch drafted is Nick Harris in trouble or just Rackers?

        A: Scott will more than likely stay. His veteran leadership and experience are still important, in spite of the aging of the young group of receivers.

        Harris is not in trouble. Rackers is.

        Q, from Beau in Philadelphia: I wanted your thoughts on Kitna. I like Kitna and feel he can lead this team.I love his attitrude and gritty personality. I also feel Ferrotte is a welcome addition as a backup. I don't want the possibility of having to turn to Smith if Kitna gets hurt.

        A: Kitna came to minicamp with a take-charge attitude and saying the job is his. He has the advantage of having the year of experience with the receivers in the offense.

        Frerotte has a better arm and more experience, but he hasn't started regularly for four years. As for Smith, he will get a chance if he fully recovers from his hamstring surgery. There are just as many people around the organization who feel Smith has never had a full chance to show what he can do as there are those who say he's a first-round bust.

        Q, from Randy in Chillicothie: How many more years will Mike Brown keep working before he retires?

        A: He probably won't retire any time soon. He is turning some power over to his daughter, executive vice president Katie Blackburn, but he maintains control. His father, Paul E. Brown, worked until he died in 1991.

       Mark Curnutte covers the Bengals for the Enquirer. He can be reached at


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