Barndt cut; Monds claimed

9-4-01, 4:35 p.m.

BY GEOFF HOBSON

The Bengals continued to nip and tuck their defensive line Tuesday when they released veteran tackle Tom Barndt and replaced him with University of Cincinnati rookie Mario Monds.

Barndt, hampered last season by a severe shoulder injury, never panned out after the Bengals gave him $3.3 million to sign a five-year, $11 million deal before the 2000 season. After some productive years in Kansas City, Barndt had just 12 tackles in 14 games playing with virtually one arm.

Barndt, a blue-collar product out of Pittsburgh and Mentor, Ohio, wanted to keep playing because of the club's investment in him. What had first been a chest muscle injury turned into reconstructive shoulder surgery this past January.

Barndt's agent, Ron Del Duca, said Tuesday there was no indication the move was because of Barndt's DUI arrest last week. Barndt, 29, always had a reputation as a solid off-field guy before the incident.

"They just said they wanted to go in a different direction," Del Duca said. "That's what happens in this league."

The Bengals don't

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comment on released players. With the off-season additions of tackle Tony Williams and tackle-end Bernard Whittington, the front line became the team's most competitive position, and there is still a question whom will be inactive on game day.

Now it will most likely be the 6-3, 325-pound Monds, a sixth-round pick cut by the Redskins. A junior college transfer to UC, Monds rung up 23 stops behind the line of scrimmage and 9.5 sacks in two seasons with the Bearcats.

The draftnicks wondered last April if he could be consistent enough from series-to-series to make it in the NFL.

"This is a guy with a lot of upside," said Jim Lippincott, Bengals director of pro/college personnel. "He's a big, strong guy who can plug the middle. It gives us a chance to bring him in and take a look."

The Bengals save only about half of Barndt's $1.2 million salary for this season because $660,000 of his deal counts against the salary cap. The club takes about a $2 million hit against the cap next year for cutting Barndt at this point in the contract.

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