By Geoff Hobson
About the only thing healthy about Willie Anderson a week before mini-camp is his attitude. But the Bengals right tackle doesn't expect nagging foot and knee problems to hamper him long enough to interfere with the start of training camp in three months.
Anderson will find out if he can participate in next weekend's mini-camp when he checks into Cincinnati next Thursday to get his left ankle and right knee checked out. Anderson missed last season's finale with sprained ankle ligaments, and the injury apparently hasn't fully healed. The mild knee ligament sprain he suffered in Game 7 also has lingered, but he doesn't think they're major problems.
"I don't think this stuff is serious, but I've been having some trouble working out," Anderson said today from his home in Atlanta. "I'll feel great one day, but the next day I'll be a little hobbled. Then I'll be fine for two days, and then I get sore again. So I just want to get it checked."
Now for something completely different. Anderson is going into the final year of his contract, and he's not making any noises about a new deal. But the Bengals are. They talked with his agent today and hope to set up a face-to-face meeting in the near future. They hope to extend Anderson and running back Corey Dillon and not pursue any veteran free-agents.
"I've got another year left on my contract and the way I see it, the Bengals don't owe me anything," Anderson said. "I just want to go in, have a good season, win some games and see what happens."
Anderson liked what happened on Draft Day, when the Bengals took Florida State wide receiver Peter Warrick, and the fact mini-camp starts with no quarterback controversy.
"There's no more whispers. Akili Smith is the guy, Scott Mitchell, is No. 2, I guess, and everything is clear-cut,'' Anderson said. "Peter Warrick a game-breaker, and you put him with Darnay Scott and Carl Pickens and the offense is really something. But I'm an offensive lineman, so I want running backs. If Corey comes in, I think it's going to make it so much easier for Akili."
Anderson admits it. He comes to mini-camp every year jacked up that this is going to be the year the Bengals turn it around. This April is no different. He sees Smith, Warrick and Scott on offense, and linebackers Brian Simmons and Takeo Spikes and two new defensive linemen in Tm Barndt and Vaughn Booker on defense.
But he knows what's been on paper and what's happened are two different worlds.
"It's time for the guys we have to be accountable for bad plays," Anderson said. "They always write, 'The Bengals aren't finger-pointing yet.' Well, maybe finger-pointing needs to be done if guys continue to make the bad plays they've been making for the last two, three years in a row. The whole thing is accountability. Let's not go out and played tense and scared. We've got to believe we're better than our record, and we do have talent on the field."
Linebacker Steve Foley arrived at Spinney Field today determined to put his problems on and off the field behind him. Earlier this month, he was the victim of mistaken identification following a shooting incident outside a Monroe, La., bar, and charges were dropped the next day. A domestic violence charge against him is also reportedly about to be dropped.
Foley, 24, a third-year player, says he's just here to work, and he's working on getting stronger and more physical. He wasn't happy with his sophomore season after an impressive rookie year and chalks it up to workouts.
"I lost some size and strength last year," Foley said. "I wasn't doing the things I did my rookie year and my last year in college," said Foley of his 18.5-sack season at Northeast Louisiana. "It showed. I wasn't completely satisfied with my play last season. It's just being more physical with the tight end and tackle and I wanted to work on my upper body."
The 6-3 Foley said he's put on 10 pounds of muscle and is at 265 pounds, but he wants to play at 260. Linebackers coach Mark Duffner says he's not so much concerned with Foley's strength as he is with consistency. "He's got great tools, but he's got to use them more consistently," said Duffner, noting that Foley had three sacks against Baltimore and one-half sack in the other 15 games. "You know he can do it."
THIS AND THAT
The Bengals are in talks with defensive end Jevon Langford, an unrestricted free agent, and are hopeful he'll be here in time for mini-camp ... Running back Sedrick Shaw signed a one-year deal. Shaw ran for an 8-yard touchdown the first time he touched the ball as a Bengal, in his only game to date in a Cincinnati uniform. That was last season's finale at Jacksonville.