Tuesday, April 27, 2004

Bengals adding offensive linemen

Sign rookie free agents

By Mark Curnutte
The Cincinnati Enquirer

The hectic pace of the past week, which started with the trade of Corey Dillon to New England, finally slowed slightly Monday for the Bengals.

The team reached agreement with its first two rookie free agents, center Brandon Newton of Hofstra and offensive lineman Michael Powers of Penn.

The Bengals are expected to announce their complete list of rookie free agent signings later this week.

Coach Marvin Lewis said after the last pick on Sunday that the Bengals were likely to sign some rookie interior offensive linemen.

The Bengals drafted only one offensive lineman over the weekend, and that was tackle Stacy Andrews of Mississippi.

"We're going to keep putting the football team together. We know that now until June, we have another chance," Lewis said. "We had a plan. It maybe just didn't fall our way, but we'll be onto it right away."

The Bengals were looking to pick either Virginia Tech center Jake Grove or Alabama guard Justin Smiley in the second round, but both players were selected right before their 49th overall pick. The Bengals selected cornerback Keiwan Ratliff of Florida.

The draft, in which the Bengals selected 11 players, completed another part of the building process. The Bengals next look forward to voluntary minicamp, May 7-9, at Paul Brown Stadium. The rookies will be there.

With 11 picks, four more than the normal seven, the Bengals might not sign as many rookie free agents.

"I don't have the luxury of having all the veterans there," Lewis said. "So we need some guys to practice. So we are going to get a look at some other guys."


E-mail mcurnutte@enquirer.com

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