BY GEOFF HOBSON
The Bengals released starting right guard Brian DeMarco today in their big surprise of NFL Cutdown Day that elevates third-year lineman Mike Goff to the No. 1 spot and allows the club to keep injured running back Michael Basnight on the active roster.
DeMarco, a free-agent from Jacksonville and former second-round pick, couldn't beat out Goff, new backup guard-tackle Scott Rehberg and center-guard Brock Gutierrez during the four preseason games.
"He didn't grade out as well as the other guys," said Bengals director of pro/college personnel Jim Lippincott. "We felt we could put together an offensive line with a different mixture of guys. It's time for Mike to show up and play and he's been doing that in pretty good fashion."
Off his solid outing Friday against the Lions Friday night, right tackle Jamain Stephens won the last offensive line spot and signed a one-year extension to be here through 2001. But veteran running back Sedrick Shaw left his third team in the past 16 months when the Bengals cut him in favor of Basnight and fourth-round pick Curtis Keaton.
Other waived veterans were defensive linemen Andre Purvis and Chad Pegues, defensive backs Sirr Parker and JoJuan Armour and tackle Mike Doughty. The free-agent rookies who got the word were recievers Marvin Chalmers and LaVell Boyd, offensive lineman Roger Roesler and cornerback Brian Gray.
The Bengals will try to make a deals with five of the released players who are eligible for the practice squad after 4 p.m. Monday. They will also scour the waiver wire tonight before finalizing their 53-man roster by Monday.
In what may have been their first personnel move based on Paul Brown Stadium's grass rather than Cinergy Field's turf, the Bengals opted to keep Basnight on the 53 even though he can't play until Oct. 1 at the earliest with the broken navicular bone in his right wrist. That meant they had to keep nine offensive linemen instead of 10.
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"Basnight is a big back who fits our offense," said Bengals President Mike Brown. "And besides Corey (Dillon), he's probably the only guy that fits that mold. When Basnight can get back later in the season, that will help us. We're playing on grass now and we're going to need that style of back like Corey and Basnight in November and December."
The Bengals pick up DeMarco's $950,000 salary for this season, but they will probably try to use it on the two guys he was playing beside in an effort to extend the contracts of left guard Matt O'Dwyer and center Rich Braham before they become free agents after the season.