Saturday, August 14, 2004
Bengals riding out the storm
Team waits for word on preseason opener against Buccaneers
By Mark Curnutte
Enquirer staff writer
The Bengals are taking care of football business during an extended central Florida stay while, at the same time, remaining mindful of the potential human drama unfolding around them.
The Bengals' first preseason game, scheduled against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for 7 p.m. today at Raymond James Stadium, was postponed Friday because of Hurricane Charley and the storms and tornadoes it spawned. The NFL said the game might be played Monday.
Left guard Eric Steinbach (elbow) returned to practice on a limited basis Wednesday and Thursday and expects to begin going full speed early next week. But Steinbach, running back Chris Perry (recent holdout), tight end James Whalen (knee), tight end Reggie Kelly (thumb) and linebacker Khalid Abdullah (ankle) won't play against the Bucs.
Running back Kenny Watson (hamstring) and fullback Alex Wade (knee) are "iffy," coach Marvin Lewis said.
No word from Lewis on fullback Jeremi Johnson (groin) and wide receiver Peter Warrick (knee), who are expected to be held out.
Carson Palmer's first start of any kind since the Orange Bowl on Jan. 2, 2003, has been delayed by at least two days.
Palmer said Friday before leaving the Georgetown College training camp that he faced no stress because of the weather in Florida and said he appreciated the hard work being done by the team's front office to juggle travel plans.
The game would not be played Sunday, either, according to the Tampa Sports Authority, because police and emergency services would be needed elsewhere in the Tampa-St. Petersburg area.
Emergency management officials feared extensive flooding and power outages. Almost 400,000 people were evacuated Thursday.
The Bengals are staying in Orlando. The team flew out of Cincinnati at 10 p.m. Thursday and arrived at its hotel around 1:30 a.m. Friday.
The Bengals will practice from 11 a.m.-12:30 p.m. today in nearby Kissimmee at Disney's Wide World of Sports. It is the training camp home of the Buccaneers.
The practice will not be a joint one with the Buccaneers, which had been speculated Friday, and will be closed to independent media.
"Obviously, the storm has had an impact on everyone, most importantly the people of the Gulf Coast and central Florida, and our thoughts are with them," Bengals coach Marvin Lewis said in a statement Friday.
The Bengals' hotel in Tampa, the Grand Hyatt Tampa Bay, was closed until Sunday.
The Bengals have several contingency plans, including flying to Cincinnati tonight, the team-owned Web site reported Friday.
In the meantime, the team continues to attend to as much football business as possible.
Lewis held a walk-through practice Friday morning in a hotel ballroom.
Lewis also has access to the club's video system. So the Bengals could watch film of the Buccaneers, the Jets (the regular-season opening opponent, Sept. 12) or cut-ups from its training camp practices.
"For us, we're still in training camp mode," Lewis said in the statement. "We're getting some good football work done."
Lewis also said plans would be made today for the team's next move.
The weather-related postponement is believed to be the first in Bengals franchise history.
The game scheduled for Sept. 16, 2001, was postponed because of the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11 and played Jan. 6, 2002. The Bengals went to Nashville and defeated the Tennessee Titans 23-21.
A league spokesman did not articulate an NFL policy regarding the postponement or canceling of preseason games.
Three regular-season games in the past 15 years of NFL play were moved or rescheduled.
Most recently, on Oct. 27 of last season, the Chargers' Monday night game against Miami had to be moved to Sun Devil Stadium in Tempe, Ariz., because of wildfires in the San Diego area.
In 1992, Hurricane Andrew forced the rescheduling of Miami's home game against New England. And in October 1989, the 49ers were forced to move a game against the Patriots to Stanford University because of earthquake damage to Candlestick Park.
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