4-29-02, 4:45 p.m.
BY GEOFF HOBSON
In an attempt to shore up defensive line depth, the Bengals signed backup Jets end Eric Ogbogu Monday to a two-year deal.
They also added two more college free agents in Penn quarterback Gavin Hoffman and Hawaii safety Robert Grant.
The 6-4, 285-pound Ogbogu has never started a game since the Jets drafted him in the sixth round out of Maryland in 1998. But his coaches during his first three years with the Terrapins, Bengals defensive coordinator Mark Duffner and cornerbacks coach Kevin Coyle, like his athleticism and all-out style.
"He's an explosive guy with an outstanding motor and a great character kid," said Duffner, who was the Terps' head coach and recruited the Tarrytown, N.Y., native. "The guy has skills. He played running back and safety in high school and he played some tight end for us at Maryland."
Duffner says the Bengals see him playing at the end on the closed side, where Vaughn Booker starts and where seventh-round pick Joey Evans
will probably line up. He does have some pass-rush skills and could end up seeing some time on the open side depending on how things go.
The Jets designated him the starting right defensive end heading into the 2000 season, but he hurt his shoulder in training camp and required season-ending shoulder surgery. He returned to a back-up role last year to play all 16 games, and had 24 tackles while recovering a fumble.
"He was a kid who was coming into his own when we left Maryland (after the 1996 season)," said Coyle, then the Terps defensive coordinator. "He's got good feet and hands and is a guy who might be able to play both sides for you."
The 6-5, 245-pound Hoffman, the Ivy League MVP as a junior, spent last weekend in the Eagles' mincamp on a tryout.