12-9-03, 5 p.m.
BY GEOFF HOBSON
After 13 weeks, the Bengals find themselves grappling with multiple injuries and roster raids.
Two days after losing left tackle Levi Jones with torn knee cartilage during Sunday's game in Baltimore, the Bengals placed their first two players on injured reserve this season when back-up linebacker Dwayne Levels (knee) and back-up right guard Matt O'Dwyer (foot) were put down for the rest of the year.
The Bengals replaced them on the 53-man roster by promoting defensive tackle Langston Moore from the practice squad and re-signing tackle Alex Sulfsted, the local product from Mariemont High School and Miami University they cut before the season.
They also lost wide receiver Lawrence Hamilton from the practice squad when the Jets claimed him and put them on their active roster. Hamilton, a free-agent rookie out of Stephen F. Austin, played in the first five games and made a start before switching roster spots with rookie wide receiver Kevin Walter on the practice squad.
The move could mean O'Dwyer has taken his last snap with the Bengals after he was the only player on both sides of the ball in 2002 who didn't miss a play. O'Dwyer , 31, started ever since he arrived as a free-agent from the Jets in 1999 until the second game of this season. In his first two seasons, he was a factor in the Bengals finishing sixth and second, respectively, in NFL rushing.
But O'Dwyer, a free agent after the season, battled injuries lately. He lost six games in 2000 with a broken ankle, another four in 2001 to two knee sprains, and he has been inactive five times this season. O'Dywer started the opener at right guard after four seasons at left guard, but was then put in a rotation with Mike Goff until he was benched after a holding call on the first play of the fourth quarter in the 21-14 win over Cleveland in Week 4.
Levels, a first-year player, played in 13 games this season with one start, and had nine tackles (three solo) on defense and 10 tackles (six solo) on special teams. He had four tackles when he started in a scheme with four linebackers in the 34-26 victory over Baltimore Oct. 19.
The 6-1, 303-pound Moore, and the 6-3, 340-pound Sulfsted both signed three-year deals. Moore is in his rookie season out of South Carolina as a sixth-round pick. He has spent all this season on the practice squad.
The 6-3, 320-pound Sulfsted is a second-year player who opened the 2003 preseason with Washington and provides some emergency depth with the Jones injury.
He was acquired by the Bengals on waivers July 28 for the second time in three years and was waived by the Bengals Aug. 25, so he already has knowledge of the system. He played in 14 games with three starts for the Redskins in 2002, one of which was at left tackle.
In order to fill the two practice squad spots, head coach Marvin Lewis went after one player he knew from his season in Washington when they signed free safety Ricot Joseph. The 6-0, 195-pound Joseph is a second-year player who signed with the Redskins as a free agent in 2002 out of Central Florida, and had seven special teams tackles in six games after being elevated from the Washington practice squad. He was waived by the Redskins Aug. 31 of this year.
Center Mike Mabry, 6-1, 300 pounds, is also out of Central Florida. A seventh-round draft choice of Baltimore back in April, he was waived by the Ravens Aug. 26.
STEELE SIGN: Defensive tackle Glen Steele is this year's Bengals' nominee for the Ed Block Courage Award. The award honors NFL players who demonstrate commitment to the values of sportsmanship and courage. Each of the 32 NFL teams selects one player, and Steele will be honored with the other winners at the annual awards banquet in Baltimore at the end of the season.
Steele has played in 77 consecutive Bengals games, the longest streak of Bengals and/or NFL games played by anyone on the current roster.
"Glen is a player who leads by example on and off the field," said Bengals head trainer Paul Sparling. "He's built in the mold of a Tim Krumrie, defying odds and playing with injuries through out his career."
Steele was a fourth round draft pick from Michigan in 1998, and has responded with a solid career. He's having an outstanding year this season in a rotation in which he has produced 26 tackles and half a sack.