09-30-2004-UNKNOWN

Geoff, Does the situation with Adrian Ross have anything to do with the cap room? I know they could have got him at a minimum but even so, isn't their cap stretched anyway with the incentive packages? I also read, that all these IR's count against the salary cap. Could you explain why that is?

I like Caleb Miller and I am looking forward to seeing him get some action, especially when he makes a play and says he's just doing his job. I can't stand seeing defensive players make a play on first down and act like they just won the game. It's usually the same who blow it on third down and can't get the defense off the field because they expended to much energy celebrating on first down. Thanks, Joe - Columbus, Ohio

JOE: From what we can gather, they were wiling to take the $455,000 salary cap hit on Ross, which they did with center Jerry Fontenot. So it wasn't money, and even Ross seems to think the Bengals aren't

convinced he is back from reconstructive knee surgery after they watched him work out. Ross insists he's recovered, but he also doesn't fit what they want in a linebacker even if they thought he was healthy.

Plus, they have time during next week's bye to bring in some free-agent veterans for workouts, and the word is there will be a couple of veteran lineackers in that mix.

With the Bengals paying nine players on injured reserve and 11 counting against the cap in some form (they cut Patrick Johnson and Thatcher Szalay), they are extremely tight against the $80 million salary cap. With Carson Palmer expected to take up the rest of this year's cap with escalators in the $2 million range, at some point the Bengals are going to be shaving money off next year's cap if they add players.

Which is why you might opt to promote a guy from your practice squad instead of a veteran in order to save about $150,000-$200,000.

Injured players count against the cap because the NFL believes charging all money to players in different categories (injured, retired, sick) helps keep the playing field level and some what pure. You can imagine what kind of fakery would be involved if injured players didn't count against the cap. When they sign those 30-year-old veterans in free-agency to a six-year deal they'll never see to completion in order to pro-rate the bonus against the cap, can you imagine all those 33-year-olds coming down with twisted knees three years later?

Miller looks like he's the next fan favorite. You can also sense the crowd is also liking backup running back Kenny Watson, another blue-collar guy who just plays, produces and goes home quietly.

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