Bengals hold off moves

BY GEOFF HOBSON

Bengals director of pro/college personnel Jim Lippincott conducted "Camp Lippy," today at Paul Brown Stadium. But the head counselor didn't get his full complement of free agents.

"We originally had 12 guys scheduled but only ended up with four," Lippincott said. "All but one of them ended up on practice squads some place else and the other guy never made it to the field because he failed the physical. So, yeah, I guess you could say we were looking at the right guys because they ended up somewhere."

As expected, former Chargers receiver Charlie Jones had the most eye-catching workout with soft hands and quick feet and looks to be the only one they are considering right now.

If the Bengals try to sign him, it most likely won't be until Monday so they won't be obligated for his entire 2000 salary. That is, if they do decide to sign him.

"We were impressed enough with his workout that he's a guy we would call if someone got hurt or if we decided to go in a different direction," said Bengals President Mike Brown.

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The Bengals like Jones' speed (he ran about 4.5 seconds today in the 40-yard dash) and his experience (129 catches in four seasons). But the coaches also worry about sending three of four receivers into next week's regular season-opener who are either rookies in Peter Warrick and Ron Dugans, and someone who doesn't know the Bengals playbook in Jones.

The odd man out would most likely be second-year player Damon Griffin, who is about the same size as the 5-8, 175-pound Jones. Jones can return punts, but Griffin is also a valued special teams player with already a year in the system.

Rookie Danny Farmer, just picked off waivers from the Steelers, is going nowhere. Not after coach Bruce Coslet today compared him to old-time Bengal Steve Kreider.

"Jones has very soft hands and a suddeness about him after he caught the ball," Lippincott said after watching Jones and former Giants receiver Brian Alford catch balls from quarterback Scott Covington. "It didn't seem to make much difference where the ball was thrown. He had one thrown behind his back and he reached back and caught it. It's an interesting situation for us."

The Bengals also worked out a pair of safeties in former Raider Ty Talton and former Lion Je'Rod Cherry. Talton raised some eyebrows, but only as a name for the "phone squad," in case of an emergency.

"There's a big difference in this place from when I came in last year to play," said Jones as he headed into the locker room after his workout. He didn't play in San Diego's 34-7 to win in Cinergy Field last year because of a dislocated hip.

"Sure, I think the Bengals are interested," Jones said. "It always helps having a veteran around. Who knows? We'll see what happens in a few days."

In a few days, Jones figures to get heavy interest from Detroit, where the offensive staff headed by Lions head coach Bobby Ross is the one that drafted him in San Diego. Jones also said today that Carolina is still interested even though they took former Titans receiver Isaac Byrd off waivers instead of signing him earlier this week.

"Charlie's still impressive," said Bengals receivers coach Steve Mooshagian, who recruited Jones to Fresno State and coached him there. "We do a little jam drill and he was really quick. I couldn't get my hands on him like I can on some of our guys. His work ethic and personality would be a big plus for us, but I'm also for whatever is best for this organization."

The Bengals seem to think sticking with Farmer is the move for the long haul. After watching him for two days, Coslet said, "He can jump out of the building, he's faster than what everybody thinks. He's got tremendous hands. . .We think he's got a tremendous future."

Coslet wouldn't compare the 6-3 Farmer to Cris Collinsworth because Collinsworth was so unique.

"Cris was taller and this kid isn't as goofier pattern wise," Coslet said. "But that was his trademark. That's how he got open. He didn't even know which way he would break."

But Coslet liked the comparison to Kreider, a sixth-round pick out of Lehigh who caught 150 balls for nine touchdowns from 1979-86: "Both tremendous athletes and they can run and they can catch the ball."

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