Notes: Perry unlikely for opener

Posted Aug 20, 2006

Posted: 4:05 a.m.

The Bengals are right back where they started before they drafted Chris Perry in 2004. They've got very few bell-cow carries behind Rudi Johnson at running back for what could be the first half of the season.

As in only the 142 NFL carries of Kenny Watson, who has carried the ball just 26 times in three seasons with the Bengals.

Head coach Marvin Lewis delivered the unsettling news at a Sunday news conference in which he said Perry is unlikely to play in the preseason, meaning he won't be ready to play Opening Day in Kansas City, and raised the specter of Perry going on the physically unable to perform list (PUP) at the start of the season and missing what would amount to the first half of the season.

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Perry, battling the rehab of offseason arthroscopic surgeries for his ankle and knee, is clearly frustrated by what has turned into an injury-filled career. In his first two seasons, he played in just half of 32 possible regular-season games and on Sunday he said he would have had the two procedures earlier in the offseason if he knew how serious the injuries were.

Perry said he got a second opinion on both problems and ended up having the surgeries. The latest procedure, on his ankle, he said was done in April.

"The second opinion confirmed what I thought; that it was more than what (the Bengals) were saying," Perry said. "They checked out (the knee) and said nothing was wrong with it and then they came back and told me something was wrong. Same with the ankle.

"It happens. That's why it took so long. If they would have told me about it in February, (the surgery) would have happened in February. I knew it was hurt. To the extent that it was I had no clue. I went and got a second opinion and found out how hurt I really was."

Perry isn't sure how he hurt the knee, but he sprained his ankle last December and missed two games. The year before in his rookie season, he missed all but two games as the club diagnosed a sports hernia late in the season. He missed the first three games of his career because of a hamstring injury.

Lewis said Perry is on the timetable doctors have given him.

"He was bothered by his ankle after he had his knee fixed," Lewis said. "One was kind of masking the other. He wanted that attended to. There are different ways to treat it, and he chose to have the (ankle) surgery. He's worked his tail off, but his game is so much cutting and flexibility of the ankle. He's going to have to be 100 percent, or he's not going to be the Chris Perry we know."

And Perry is feeling the frustration. During training camp, he said it was like matching lottery numbers except for the last number. On Sunday he said, "Same thing, only it happened twice."

The Bengals don't know if they're going to start the season with Palmer, but now it looks like they've lost for at least a game one of his big-time weapons on third down. Perry's explosiveness accounted for 4.6 yards per carry last season on 61 runs and his 51 catches for 328 yards nearly broke James Brooks's club-record 55 catches by a running back.

Perry's injury severely complicates a Bengals roster that under Lewis has kept only three running backs and fullback Jeremi Johnson. If the Bengals went with just two tight ends, they would then probably have to keep two fullbacks instead of just one because of blocking and that doesn't address their current need.

The only running back on the active roster besides Johnson who has carried at least 61 times in a season is Watson, but not since he averaged 4.6 per his 116 carries for the 2002 Redskins. He does have two 100-yard games, but he has never carried more than 23 times in a game.

Watson, 28, a fifth-year player, is himself coming off a season he spent all but one game on the injured reserve list with a bicep tear and he's had various dings this year. He didn't run the ball Friday night in Buffalo after rushing for 12 yards on four carries in the opener, but his ability to pass protect, catch the ball out of the backfield, and play special teams is valued highly by the coaches.

Quincy Wilson, a Johnson clone out of West Virginia who has spent his two previous seasons on the practice squad after the Falcons drafted him in the seventh round, has carried 41 times for 151 yards in the last two preseasons for the Bengals. He went for 44 yards on 16 carries in Buffalo and while he has a productive running style, there is concern about what he can do in the passing game.

DeDe Dorsey, a free-agent rookie out of NAIA Lindenwood, has flashed in both preseason games running and catching, displaying the kind of hands the club wants in a back. He rushed for 68 yards on six carries in the opener and followed that up by a catch-and-run 59-yarder out of the backfield against the Bills.

The other running back, Terrence Whitehead, a free agent rookie out of Oregon, may miss next Monday night's game because of a toe injury.

The one thing about Johnson is that he's extremely durable. Sine Corey Dillon pulled his groin in the third game of the 2003 season and Johnson came off the inactive list, Johnson has played in the last 46 straight games and run the ball at least 10 times in the last 36 straight.

If Perry goes on PUP on Cutdown Day, then he can't practice for six weeks. Then he has a three-week window to practice before the Bengals add him to the roster or put him on IR. They won't cut him.

WHIT'S WORTH: We had to write this down Sunday, but rookie left tackle Andrew Whitworth didn't.

The Bengals were pleasantly surprised at how Whitworth held up Friday night in place of Levi Jones (ankle) at left tackle. Not that he did well against a premier pass rusher in the Bills' Aaron Schobel. But that he did it so soon in his second game and first start.

"That's the kind of guy I thought would give him a hard time at first," said offensive line coach Paul Alexander of the undersized but quick Schobel. "(Whitworth) knows the angles and has such long legs to his geometry that he can intersect those angles. It's a combination of how long his body is and how long his reach is."

Or, as Alexander discussed Whitworth's 6-7, 340-pound dimensions: "The question was his foot speed. But he has such length. You can get from Point A to Point B with quickness, or you can be so big that you're already there. That's why he can do it."

How big is Whitworth?

"It looks like he's lined up offside all the time, he's just so tall," Alexander said.

After playing 52 straight games at left tackle for LSU, Whitworth made the move to left guard once he arrived in the second round but has played both spots. With Jones locked up long term, he'll have to find another position, but Whitworth took satisfaction at what he did on the edge in shutting out a guy that had 12 NFL sacks the year before.

"Most of the (draft analysts) didn't think I would ever play left tackle. It's nice I could go against a small, fast guy. When they said I couldn't play left tackle and then play well is definitely something I'm proud of, but I believe there are things I can fix and become a better player."

But he probably won't write it in his playbook. Alexander is amazed that Whitworth doesn't take notes during the meetings and absorbs the material in his head. Whitworth says when Alexander gives his open book pregame tests, he doesn't need his playbook. He thinks he might miss something while he's writing.

"I like to visualize things when he describes things on the board," Whitworth said. "I like to listen to every word he says. I keep a notebook and after he gets done talking I jot things that I think were important for me to know."

Whitworth, who didn't go to his LSU graduation until the coaches kicked him out of practice, got his degree in general studies in much the same fashion.

"If I visualize things," Whitworth said, "I remember it word for word."

WILLING DEAL? So this is why guys don't want to talk about contract negotiations.

A week after his agent visited training camp and said a dialogue had been opened with the team and a day after reported the Bengals had made an offer to extend his contract beyond 2006, Pro Bowl right tackle Willie Anderson said, "nothing's going on."

As Anderson, the most accessible of all Bengals, said, "Don't I tell you guys what's going on?'' Anderson insisted "We're not talking," but when asked to deny the story that the sides have talked, he didn't. And the stories have said the talks have been general in nature and that nothing is imminent.

Asked if the club has told him not to talk about the negotiations, Anderson said, "If they did, do you think I would follow that?"

Terry Bolar, Anderson's agent, said Sunday, "I have no comment until there is something to report."

All of which had Anderson siding with the guys who don't talk about contracts during the season.

"I think it's a good policy guys have. The last thing you want to do is get caught up in talking about negotiations. The focus should be about football. That should be it," Anderson said.

"If there were things going on, I wouldn't get involved in it now. It's too harsh of a thing mentally. ... The last thing (you want) going into the season is somebody saying how good, how not good you are. I'm sure the last thing a head coach or an organization wants to see is you getting ready for Kansas City and how good you think you are."

INJURY UPDATE: Lewis did indicate that another player yet to practice, defensive tackle Sam Adams, would play in one of the final two games of the preseason, which ends Sept. 1 in Indianapolis, and that he would be ready for the opener. Defensive lineman Jonathan Fanene (hamstring) and Adam Kieft (knee) also haven't practiced yet and their status is to be re-evaluated later in the week.

And it appears that cornerback Rashad Bauman is headed to season-ending injured reserve with a ruptured patella tendon in his kneecap and that safety Anthony Mitchell is out at least two to three months with a severely sprained foot.

Bauman, winner of the Bengals Ed Block Courage award after playing last season with the memory of his infant son's death on Thanksgiving Day of 2004, is one of the more popular players in the locker room and his injury in the last minute Friday night took a toll.

"Rashad is such a great person. He plays so hard and he's gone through a lot," Lewis said. "Everyone wants him to be successful. He played his tail off the other night. It's unfortunate when he got hurt, how he got hurt, but unfortunately it's part of the game."

Lewis said Bauman is to undergo surgery Monday, but the preliminary diagnosis is the rupture.

Lewis said Mitchell, who led the Bengals special teams in snaps and tackles last season, suffered a Lisfranc sprain, which is an injury to a joint in the foot and can take up to two to three months to heal depending on the severity. It's similar to the injury defensive end Bryan Robinson suffered last season that took him out of the final six regular-season games.

Also out for the Packers game are two rookies, defensive end Frostee Rucker (shoulder) and running back Terrence Whitehead (toe). Lewis hopes to have Rucker back in another week for the Indy game.

Perry, Adams, Kieft, Fanene, Bauman, Mitchell, Rucker and Whitehead were pretty much the only players Lewis said may not play against the Packers. Even though linebacker David Pollack, cornerback Deltha O'Neal, safety Dexter Jackson and wide receivers Tab Perry and Antonio Chatman were just some of the many Bengals not practicing Sunday, Lewis said everyone except those other eight were on track to play.

BENGALS WAIVE TWO: The Bengals announced Sunday the release of safety Tony Bua and quarterback Erik Meyer. Bua is a second-year NFL player with seven games experience at Miami. He was on the Bengals practice squad for the last 10 games of 2005. Meyer, from Eastern Washington, signed with the Bengals as an undrafted college free agent this past May 5. Lewis said Sunday it is unlikely the Bengals will carry a quarterback on the practice squad.

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