05-16-2001-UNKNOWN

5-16-01, 7:25 p.m.

BY GEOFF HOBSON

No, the last time John Jackson lined up at right tackle wasn't Woodward-Withrow on a Queens City prep Friday night in the early 1980s.

But it's pretty close.

After getting some snaps at right tackle this week in the Bengals' voluntary workouts, the 36-year-old Jackson had to think a minute after 192 NFL games at left tackle.

Try the fall of 1986. All the way back to Bill Buckner and Bill Parcells. It was the last game of Jackson's junior year for Eastern Kentucky, a few years after he came out of Cincinnati's Woodward High School.

At Arkansas State. A playoff game. That's the last time he played right tackle.

Now he's back there 15 years and 166 pro starts later as the Bengals seek a swing man to back up both left tackle Richmond Webb and right tackle Willie Anderson.

"No, it's not like riding a bike. I can do that,"

Jackson said. "It's like riding a bike if you're riding a bike backwards. I've been left-handed doing everything. Now it's the opposite way."

Bengals offensive line coach Paul Alexander is tinkering this month.

"We're using this time to look at a guy's second-best position," Alexander said. "We're looking to see who can be versatile. Trying to see how many spots a guy can play. Somebody is going to have to be the swing guy.

" It's too early to start cutting people. This is May 16. There's training camp and preseason games and a lot of football to be played," Alexander said. "The pads aren't even on yet."

Who knows? Do Jackson, former starting left tackle Rod Jones, and backup right tackle Jamain Stephens all make it? Or does the most versatile stick? Can they afford to keep Jones as a $2.2 million utility man?

Last week, Jones worked at guard. This week he's back at tackle and at a leaner 317 pounds the Bengals are taking a long look at him as a possible four-position player.

"Rod looks good," said Jim Lippincott, the club's director of pro/college personnel. "If you look at his feet, he's much quicker than he was last year. Rod is a strong man. You can run the ball behind him and he looked pretty good at guard."

It may feel funny, but Jackson thinks he'll be fine on the right side. And after all these years he welcomes the move.

"It will take some time, but that's why you have practice," Jackson said. "Learning to play in a right-handed stance instead of left-handed. Learning to step with the other foot first. It can be done and I like the challenge of it."

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