8-26-03, 3:05 p.m.
BY GEOFF HOBSON
Marvin Lewis' new regime claimed two more veterans Tuesday when special teams ace Ron Dugans and strong safety JoJuan Armour were released in jettisoning a combined 84 Bengals' games.
They are the 15th and 16th players on last year's Opening Day roster to leave via free agency or a release, and the eighth and ninth to be cut by Lewis.
They also added rookie receiver Kevin Walter, claimed off waivers from the Giants, to reach their roster limit of 66. They have to be at 53 in five days.
Walter, a seventh-round draft pick out of Eastern Michigan, caught a ball in the final 34 games of his career in becoming the school's all-time receiver. He didn't have a catch in the preseason, but the 6-3, 220-pound Walter comes to a team that is stockpiling big receivers. He's the second 220-pounder claimed off waivers in two days in joining Marquise Walker.
Dugans' departure, reached on an injury settlement, may not be that big of a surprise because he had yet to play in a pre-season game this year with Achilles' tendonitis. A bigger surprise might be the pickup of Walter, since there are still eight receivers on board with Friday night's pre-season finale in Indianapolis remaining and the speculation they will keep just five receivers. That no doubt puts Walter, Walker, and Lawrence Hamilton on the bubble.
Dugans, 26, a third-round pick out of Florida State in 2000, was part of the first receiving corps in Bengals' history to have five players with at least 40 catches in a season last year when had 47 for 421 yards. He scored the Bengals' first regular-season touchdown at Paul Brown Stadium in 2000 on a day he and Peter
Warrick became the first rookies from the same college to open the NFL season as a team's starting wide receivers. Despite his Achilles' problem, he played in every game last year for the second straight season.
But his biggest contribution came on special teams. On a unit that annually finished in the bottom of the league rankings, Dugans often said the Bengals needed more players taking teams seriously. He tried to show them as the special teams' leading tackler in 2001 in becoming their Pro Bowl teams nominee. He followed it up with 18 stops on kicking plays last season, just one behind team leader Marquand Manuel's 19.
The popular Armour, a Miami of Ohio product, is also a special teams standout and was special teams captain for one of this year's pre-season games. But apparently he became a casualty of Lewis' bid to find versatile two-way safeties.
Armour, the two-time Mid-American Conference Defensive Player of the Year as a linebacker, is seen primarily as a run stopper. The Bengals turned to him in each of the last two seasons and he came off the bench in an attempt to shore up a porous run defense in 19 starts.
Armour, 27, was a seventh-round draft pick of the Raiders in 1999 and played with them for the preseason before getting waived and picked up by the Jaguars. Jacksonville released him in two weeks and he arrived for good in Cincinnati off waivers Sept. 21, 1999.
A Toledo native, Armour has always been one of the most active Bengals off the field. Last month, he was honored as Cincinnati Bengal of the Year at the 8th Annual March of Champions banquet at the Cincinnati Gardens in an event that honors local amateur and professional athletes and coaches for their accomplishments on the field and in the community.
He is founder and president of the Care for Kids Foundation, which includes the Knights in Armour program that honors academic achievement.