BY GEOFF HOBSON
Defensive tackle Tom Barndt is exactly what the Bengals thought he was when he signed a five-year, $11 million deal during free agency in the offseason.
A gamer. Tough. Committed. The problem is, he hasn't been as productive this season as he was with the Chiefs because of a season-long injury to his bicep.
Actually, "it's where the bicep meets the pectoral muscle," said Barndt, pointing to his upper chest. "It's frustrating because I can't do things as effectively as I want to. Like grabbing and ripping, getting leverage. I just have to keep fighting through it."
The Bengals fear Barndt is virtually playing with one arm. In the last three seasons, Barndt averaged 51 tackles in Kansas City and had a total of eight sacks. In four games this season, Barndt has just four tackles and no sacks.
Barndt injured his bicep right before the preseason opener and missed all the practice games. So did end Michael Bankston (thigh/knee). Plus, end Vaughn Booker will miss his third straight game this week after fainting in the Sept. 17 Jacksonville game. Which are maybe three reasons why the Bengals have the NFL's sixth worst run defense in giving up 131 running yards per game.
"I think it's a matter of strength right now," Barndt said. "I'm going to keep trying to get it done."
NO TV: The Bengals have a good shot at selling out Sunday's 1 p.m. game against Tennessee at Paul Brown Stadium. But they didn't do it in time to get the game on local television. With the Reds' season over, the radio call will be on 700 WLW-AM, as well as 92.5 FM The Fox, and 1360-AM Homer.
THIS AND THAT: Booker flew back from the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., Thursday night and will sit down with doctors and team officials Friday to go over the battery of tests he has undergone since his fainting episode nearly three weeks ago. The club is hoping no news at this point means negative tests and that he'll be able to play Oct. 15 in Pittsburgh. . . RT Willie Anderson said Thursday he'll play against Titans sack ace Jevon Kearse despite his hyperextended knee. . .Titans WR Carl Pickens (hamstring) didn't practice Thursday and it looked doubtful that Pickens or WR Yancey Thigpen (hamstring) would play Sunday. Thigpen did do some light running, but it looks more and more like the Titans will line up with Chris Sanders and Derrick Mason and rest Pickens and Thigpen for the upcoming Oct. 15- 30 stretch that takes Tennessee against Jacksonville, Baltimore and Washington.