BY GEOFF HOBSON
Quarterback Akili Smith had a request today while he was talking about his chemistry with rookie receiver Peter Warrick. Maybe it shows how much time Smith has been spending with offensive coordinator Ken Anderson, also known as the Bengals all-time passing leader.
Smith-Warrick, he says, plans to take a run at Anderson-Curtis.
"Can you find out how many touchdowns and how many yards and all that Kenny had with him?" asked Smith, referring to Isaac Curtis, Anderson's favorite receiver.
Told the Anderson-Curtis combo is in the NFL's all-time top ten with 53 touchdown passes, Smith smiled. "I heard they were great. We want to take it down. We're coming after them."
Smith-Warrick have a way to go for a pair that has yet to score. It took Anderson and Curtis from 1973-84 to become the eighth most prolific tandem in league history, tied with the Redskins' Hall-of-Fame duo of Sonny Jurgensen-to-Charley Taylor. And they aren't too far away from some other revered combos. Joe Montana-to-Jerry Rice and Dan Marino-to-Mark Duper each had 55, and John Hadl and Lance Alworth hooked up for 56.
"And you've got to remember that Isaac hurt his knee late in his career and didn't play as long as he could have," said Anderson today of a man who has remained his good friend through all the years and yards. "When Isaac came into the NFL, he had as much of an impact as Jerry Rice. There was nobody like him back then. He wasn't a sprinter playing football. He was a football player fast enough to qualify for the (Olympic trials)."
The top four scoring duos are Rice from Steve Young (85), Marino-Mark Clayton (79), Jim Kelly-Andre Reed (65), and Johnny Unitas-Raymond Berry (63).
"I hope they do it," Anderson said of Smith-Warrick. "Hell, yes. If they do, that means we're winning a lot of games."
All but Kelly and Reed put up their numbers before unfettered free agency hit the league six years ago. But Anderson thinks a combo still has the ability to stay together long enough these days to rack up similar stats.
"Maybe not entire teams stay together, but you look at teams like St. Louis signing guys long term," Anderson said. "Keeping guys like (quarterback Kurt) Warner and (receiver Isaac) Bruce together. The running back (Marshall Faulk). The core of teams have been kept together. It can happen."
Smith can see himself playing in Cincinnati for a dozen years or so ("I love it here, I'm not going anywhere") and is interested in the history of the place. "Who did Boomer go to a lot?" he asked and when told Esiason spread it around, Smith thought of receiver Darnay Scott gone for the year with a broken leg.
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"When Darnay comes back, that could be pretty interesting," Smith said. "That might be how it is here with Pete and (rookie Ron) Dugans."
But the natural fit with Smith is Warrick. They are the club's back-to-back No. 1 picks at the end of a decade they are supposed to erase. They are the coverboys on a team seeking a national image. Their families share a luxury box at Paul Brown Stadium. And they are The Odd Couple. Smith was a bit taken aback to see Warrick and Dugans having a good time in the huddle Saturday night.
"They're laughing because they're running around open and everybody is saying how hard the NFL is," Smith said. "There they are running around open, relaxed and stuff like that. That kind of helps me because sometimes I tend to be too serious out there. When I see my wideouts laughing and giggling, I start thinking about making it fun."
On Saturday night, after Warrick scored on his 14-yard reverse and after Warrick caught Smith's 23-yard sideline pattern, they were on the sidelines when Smith said to him, "Man, you're trying to steal my show tonight." Warrick laughed and told him, "No, No. 11. It's your show." And Smith told him, "No, it's your show."
But Smith knows before him, there was a showman named Isaac Curtis. He was told Curtis went to college in his neck of the woods. San Diego State. And that Anderson calls Curtis, "Jerry Rice before Jerry Rice."
"I've got to meet this guy," Smith said.
He's 53 touchdowns away.