A better day

7-22-01, 9:00 p.m.

BY GEOFF HOBSON

GEORGETOWN, Ky. _ Just like wide receivers coach Steve Mooshagian thought, Darnay Scott is getting better every day.

After a shaky debut Saturday in his first practice since last season's year-ending broken leg, Scott flashed his game-breaking speed in Saturday's team session when he zoomed past

cornerback Robert Bean and caught a 40-yard bomb over the wrong shoulder after adjusting to the ball.

"The key thing was he burst past him," said director of pro/college personnel Jim Lippincott. "And then he broke off a route on a blitz and stuck his broken leg right in the ground to make the plant. It was encouraging."

Scott didn't run the three gassers after practice because of cramps, but Mooshagian says he's down six pounds from Saturday at 202. They want him at 200.

"His reporting weight was 202 the last three years," Mooshagian said. "Tomorrow morning we'll get him in the cardiovascular room to do some bike work, but he was much better today. He caught that long one, he made two sight adjustment reads and caught a nice slant. He still needs to catch up on some learning, but he's about right where I thought he'd be."

THIS AND THAT: Jon Kitna asked, "Who's the leader in the clubhouse?" after Sunday's practice in regards to the quarterback derby." It's probably Kitna himself. Because he's already grounded in new offensive coordinator Bob Bratkowski's system, he looks more decisive against blitzes. . .

No progress on the Justin Smith front Sunday, but Bengals executive vice president Katie Blackburn expects to get an offer from agent Jim Steiner Monday. . .

Punter Will Brice, who the Bengals cut 11 games into the 1999 season, could make his competition with incumbent Daniel Pope very interesting. Brice has the bigger leg, but he was so slow in '99 that he couldn't get the ball off.

But Brice 's time on three punts from when the ball hit his hands to when it met his foot was 1.28, 1.31 and 1.34 seconds. The ideal time is 1.2 seconds, but two years ago Brice's time ranged from 1.51 to 1.55. If Brice stays long with that quickness, it's going to be interesting.

IN THE WEBB: Some inside the Bengals are concerned how left tackle Richmond Webb is playing at about 13 pounds overweight at 338 pounds. But like most guys, Lippincott said he looked much better Sunday than Saturday and Webb says this was pretty much routine for him when he was going to seven Pro Bowls with the Dolphins.

"I'm holding up physically," Webb said. "I just have to push to get into football shape. Other than that, I'm fine. The only thing about camp is you start to lose your legs. Once you get the legs back, you feel a lot better. The legs go quick and that's about where I am now. But it's going to come back. I've been going through this for 10, 11 years."

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