Bengals activate Smith

9-14-01, 1:45 p.m. Update: 9-14-01, 7:35 p.m.

BY GEOFF HOBSON

The Bengals lifted Justin Smith's exempt status Friday, clearing the way for their first-round pick to make his NFL debut in the Sept. 23 home game against Baltimore.

As the American flag appeared on all the Paul Brown Stadium video boards until midnight to salute the Day of Remembrance, the Bengals worked on the adjacent practice field in a brief practice without pads for about an hour.

Smith practiced for the third time Friday since reporting last week and has been impressive enough for

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the Bengals to add him to the active 53-man roster.

Defensive coordinator Mark Duffner said his staff hasn't talked about personnel yet for the matchup with the Super Bowl champion Ravens, but Smith figures to at least play on some passing downs.

"We haven't even got that far yet. We still have some practices to see what he can do," said Duffner, when asked if Smith could start at right end.

"I've been impressed with him. He and (position coach) Tim Krumrie have

have spent a lot of time helping Justin learn the defense. That's been impressive," Duffner said. "It's too early to say how much he'll play, but he definitely looks good to us."

The only injured player who won't be ready for the Baltimore game is rookie guard Victor Leyva (ankle). Receivers Darnay Scott (toe) and Peter Warrick (knee) sat out Friday's practice.

Scott has an abscess around his toe nail after jamming his toe running a route. On Thursday and Friday, Warrick missed what is believed to be the first two practices of his two-year NFL career. He's got some sore knee cartilage, but there is no need for a surgical procedure and both players are expected to be fine for the next game.

The NFL is expected to make an announcement Tuesday on what do about this weekend's lost games. The thinking is commissioner Paul Tagliabue will side with the players and make up the slate of games on the Jan. 5-6 Wild Card Weekend. That would wipe out two playoff teams from each conference, but Bengals player representative Tom Carter said that was the sentiment of Thursday night's conference call with NFL Players Association chief Gene Upshaw.

"The guys are thinking to get in as many games as possible," Carter said. "That helps with things like benefits and service time."

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