BY GEOFF HOBSON **
Anderson talks to begin
Still at an impasse with Pro Bowl running back Corey Dillon, the Bengals plan to make a serious run at wrapping up right tackle Willie Anderson for the long term when they meet with agent Terry Bolar Thursday morning.
The club could give Bolar more than one offer as it tries to lock down a fifth-year player heading into the final season of his rookie contract. The Bengals have noticed Anderson has said all the right things while he waited patiently as they tried to secure Dillon. Plus, during this past season, Anderson emerged as a voice in the locker room.
"We're going in with a positive attitude," Bolar said tonight. "The thing we're keeping in mind is that Willie could be a free agent next year. I know he'd like to get it done before training camp. It would make playing this season easier."
Anderson missed this past weekend's minicamp and hasn't worked in this week's veteran's voluntary camp as he waits for tendinitis to ease in his left ankle. Left tackle Rod Jones isn't practicing this week, either. The minicamp was his first activity since he had arthroscopic surgery to repair a sllght knee cartilage tear and the knee became swollen and sore.
"It's not going to be a problem at all," Jones said. "It just needs rest because it's the most I've done on it since the surgery. I should be able to practice next week."
AKILI ON FIRE:
** Management and coaches were wearing smiles after watching quarterback Akili Smith throw accurately and quickly for today's entire workout. The only passes he missed were his last two, on crossing routes to the flanker. He underthrew Darnay Scott and threw behind Craig Yeast, but other than that he was flawless.
"Akili," said coach Bruce Coslet, "was a laser."
Smith and backup quarterback Scott Covington said offensive coordinator Ken Anderson today stressed the mental clock and how it had to start faster. During some moments of the minicamp, Smith held on to the ball too long. But not today.
"Kenny was telling us when we go to our first hitch (to throw), and it's not there, we've got to look off and go to the second and third options," Smith said.