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Bengals make bulk buy

6-24-02, 2:25 p.m.


The Bengals tried to fill a 336-pound hole Monday when they reached around the world and signed one of NFL Europe's top defensive linemen.

With no wide-body backing up starting defensive tackles Oliver Gibson and Tony Williams, 6-2, 336-pound Pernell Davis, late of the Scottish Claymores, has a solid chance of securing the roster spot that eluded him in Philadelphia the past three seasons.

"He's got a good chance of making it. He's a big body we need," said Jim Lippincott, the Bengals director of pro/college personnel. "He's a strong guy who plays with effort and will chase plays. He is mainly a run stopper, but he can push the pocket for you some."

Davis, 26, agreed to a two-year minimum deal at $680,000 with nothing up front after one NFL scouting service ranked him the best free-agent interior lineman in NFL Europe and third overall.

It's a clear sign the Bengals are looking to spend their big money elsewhere, such as on extensions for linebackers Takeo Spikes and Brian Simmons and a new contract for a veteran wide receiver.

The Bengals approached the agent for Ravens tackle Sam Adams as recently as 10 days ago, but were told he was looking for a multi-year deal

with an $8 million signing bonus. And Eugene Parker told the Bengals they weren't on Adams' list of contending teams for a one-year contract.

The Bengals also talked about veteran tackle Jim Flanigan. But given their other needs, the fact Flanigan turns 31 in August, and the scouting reports on Davis, they opted to go with a younger and less expensive guy who showed more power than most of the players left on the board.

"Power. Some quickness," said Davis, when asked what he brings to the table. "I'm known as a run-stopper, but I think I can put some pressure on the quarterback up the middle."

Davis has played in just two NFL games, both in his rookie season of 1999 after the Eagles took him in the seventh round out of Alabama-Birmingham. He went to NFL Europe two years ago with the Frankfurt Galaxy and broke his leg in the season's last game, which shelved him for the 2000 NFL season. The Eagles cut Davis last preseason and then signed him to their practice squad in December.

"He's an explosive guy out of his stance," Lippincott said. "He's not going to win any track meets, but he's not running track. His initial quickness is more than adequate. This guy has more experience than most guys coming out of Europe and I have hopes for him. I think he's a hungry player and the fact he's already been cut somewhere else should bring that out."

The Bengals feel they now have a more experienced Mario Monds who has comparable strength. Monds, the University of Cincinnati rookie who came here off waivers just before last season, ripped his anterior cruciate knee ligament in March workouts for NFL Europe and isn't expected back until October.

The Bengals technically have two backup tackles in the 300-pound Glen Steele and the 290-pound Bernard Whittington, but they prefer Whittington play at end and they seek someone with more of an anchor to help out Steele. When Williams went down early in the 16-7 loss to Pittsburgh last Oct. 7, the Steelers and then the Bears two weeks later each rushed for more than 200 yards.

"He's probably our biggest defensive lineman at 336, but we would like him down to 325," Lippincott said.

Davis, who is from Birmingham, said the Saints also contacted him, but "the Bengals are looking for a big guy and I think that gave them an advantage."

With the Bengals figuring to keep eight defensive linemen, the move should put some heat on the competition at end. Starters Justin Smith and Vaughn Booker and nickel rusher Reinard Wilson have to be considered locks. Which puts the microscope on seven-year veteran Jevon Langford, seventh-round pick Joey Evans, and a free-agent pickup from the Jets in Eric Ogbogu.

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