BY GEOFF HOBSON
Bob Bratkowski arrives at Paul Brown Stadium Wednesday for the first time as Bengals' offensive coordinator and the first and biggest question revolves around franchise quarterback Akili Smith.
Head coach Dick LeBeau reiterated Tuesday Smith will be involved in "an open and fair competition, " during training camp when it comes to deciding the Bengals starting quarterback after Smith got benched following the tenth game of last season.
And after watching former first-round quarterbacks Trent Dilfer and Kerry Collins lead their teams to the Super Bowl, Bengals President Mike Brown says patience for a young player like Smith should be the lesson of a Dilfer, drafted by Tampa Bay, and a Collins, drafted by Carolina.
"The thing they did was fail where they were," Brown said. "That's an old story in the National Football League. Maybe we should have a little more tolerance with who we have.
"You heard all the bleeding down in Tampa last week," Brown said. "How (the Buccaneers) had quarterbacks like Dilfer, Steve Young and Doug Williams leave and help other teams win the Super Bowl. Maybe that's the point. Err on the side of patience."
Bratkowski has an open mind on Smith and says
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it won't be an overnight process of evaluation. He said Tuesday he plans to watch plenty of tape, talk to the other coaches, "and even then it's going to take being around him for a long time."
Bratkowski figures he can get a playbook installed with the coaching staff in about a month, which is when he would need Smith back in Cincinnati.
"But it all depends," said Bratkowski of a playbook timeline. "I have to watch film and sit down with the staff and decide if we start from scratch or keep some things. That all has to be discussed."
One thing is for sure. There will be an extra mandatory minicamp this spring because LeBeau is allowed two since he's going into his first full season as head coach.
The annual minicamp is slated for late April after the draft. LeBeau thinks he might replace one of the June voluntary camps with the other mandatory minicamp.
"That's not much of a change because we had almost everybody there anyway in June," LeBeau said.