Bengals fear for Williams

5-6-01, 1:30 p.m.

BY GEOFF HOBSON

The Bengals are crossing their fingers Sunday afternoon as fullback Nick Williams undergoes a magnetic resonance imaging test (MRI) on his sprained knee.

They hope it's not a season-ending injury because that would leave them with no fullbacks and send them into the free-agency market.

Clif Groce, the Bengals' other fullback, won't be cleared for several weeks

with a sprained medial collateral knee ligament.

Williams went down in Sunday morning's practice during a one-on-one session in which the linebackers covered the running backs on pass routes.

The 270-pound Williams, 24, a third-year player taken in the fifth round of the '99 NFL Draft, is supposed to emerge this year as the starting fullback. His ability to be the back in a one-back set and catch the ball coming out of the backfield figures to be a premium in new offensive coordinator Bob Bratkowski's steady diet of three-receiver sets. < p=""> "If there is something wrong with Nick, we'll have to go get a guy," said Bengals President Mike Brown.

There's a chance quarterback Akili Smith could sit out Sunday afternoon's practice to rest his tired right arm. He said he fought through the morning session after a heavy week of throwing in the days leading up to the minicamp.

The camp ends with a Monday morning workout, but the veterans begin four weeks of three-day workouts on Tuesday.

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