Wednesday, August 25, 2004

Bengals e-mail Q&A

Regular season nears

Mark Curnutte
Training camp breaks today. The opener is less than three weeks away.

Question, from Randy in Dallas: Reading between the lines, it doesn't look like Peter Warrick is recovering well from his knee surgery and may not be much a factor this year. Do the Bengals feel confident that T.J. Houshmandzadeh and Kelley Washington can fill his shoes?

Answer: Coach Marvin Lewis says the team is saving wear and tear on Warrick's knee in the preseason while he strengthens it for the regular season.

Lewis insists that Warrick will be ready and could play now if needed.

As for Washington, he looks far more comfortable and natural in his second year than he did as a rookie. He is a big possession receiver.

Houshmandzadeh had 41 receptions in 2002 and adds experienced depth to the group. Coordinator Bob Bratkowski does have confidence in both players.

But the Bengals do need a healthy, productive Warrick in the offense. He is difficult to defend and works as a perfect underneath foil for Chad Johnson's intermediate and deep game.

Q, from Greg in Celina: We know Stacy Andrews is big and talented, but inexperienced. We expect, since he is a project, he will be practice-squad fodder. Has Lewis given any thought to working him out as a defensive tackle? Intriguing idea to have a 350-pounder stuffing the middle with the pass deflecting ability he possesses.

A: Not sure what Lewis has in mind for Andrews, but it's doubtful it involves playing defense. Switching him around would slow his development as an offensive tackle.

As for putting him on the practice squad, Andrews would surely be nabbed by another team if the Bengals left him exposed.

Q, from Mike in Jamestown: Why haven't I heard anything about Matthias Askew? I thought he was the steal of the draft.

A: He entered the draft early and might have benefited from another year in school. He's simply not ready to play defensive tackle in the NFL at this time. He's another player who could be claimed off the Bengals practice squad.

The team has some difficult decisions about which players to put on the practice squad.

Q, from Joseph in Wheatland, N.Y.: From the press releases, I take it that Casey Bramlet hasn't made a very big splash in the NFL. Would you care to comment on your view of Casey and his place with the Bengals?

A: Bramlet would look to be the favorite to win the job as third quarterback, especially since rookie free agent Scott Rislov was cut.

Bramlet impressed people with his poise in his two preseason appearances, and he talked about how he overcame nervousness once he got on the field. The Bengals don't need their third quarterback to play, with Carson Palmer and Jon Kitna in front of him. So Bramlet will have time to develop.

Q, from Rick in Anderson Township: The Bengals looked great against the Pats. It's a little early but looking at the wide receiver corps, I think Warrick, Johnson and Washington are locks. I also think (Jamall) Broussard and (Kevin) Walter for their special teams duty. I think Houshmandzadeh or Patrick Johnson is in trouble. What is your opinion?

A: They might go with seven receivers, given that Walter is an excellent special teams player. Houshmandzadeh would appear to have too much talent and experience to go.

Patrick Johnson has been getting more work in the past week after recovering from a leg injury.

Broussard is a risk on the practice squad, because another team would likely claim him.



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