Bengals, Mitchell talking

2-21-2001 BY GEOFF HOBSON

The Bengals and quarterback Scott Mitchell have traded initial proposals, but no deal is imminent.

Still, agent Tony Agnone said Wednesday his client is pleased the Bengals are interested in re-signing him before free agency starts in nine days.

"We've talked. They're interested and we're interested," Agnone said. "We're just trying to figure out a way to close the gap. I'll look through some things and sit down with Scott. He'd like to be there and get something done."

The Bengals have no comment and neither side is talking numbers. But with Akili Smith still a big factor in their plans, the Bengals most likely don't want to pay Mitchell much more than the $800,000 they gave him this season.

But no doubt Mitchell is looking at his 2-3 record as the Bengals' starter in his first extended action since 1997 and is probably looking to get back into at least the $1.5 million per year club.

Agnone wouldn't discuss "the gap," between the sides. He would only say if a deal isn't done by March 2, the Bengals would still be on Mitchell's list of teams.

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SIMMONS IMPRESSIVE: ** In defensive coordinator Mark Duffner's mind, Bengals middle linebacker Brian Simmons is cleared for the club's May 4 minicamp. And Duffner can't wait after supervising his brief workout Wednesday at Paul Brown Stadium.

Simmons got checked out by team doctor Rob Heidt Jr., after Duffner watched him work on the knee in which he tore cartilage off the bone in last season's opener.

Instead of removing the cartilage, Heidt re-attached it and Duffner pronounced the surgery a success.

"I was excited about what I saw," said Duffner of the drills in the PBS gym. "He went through every linebacker move possible. He dropped into coverage. He shuffled. He planted and drove. Change of direction. Very encouraging. It looks like he can play today."

Trainer Paul Sparling said the key to Simmons' recovery is keeping track of his symptoms.

"Pain, soreness, swelling and he's got none of it," Sparling said. "All he's got to do is knock off the rust."

Simmons said he felt fine after the workout then sat down with Duffner for a mini skull session before they went to lunch.

Simmons said he still needs to strengthen the muscles around his knee so when he bends he can get explosion coming out of his low stance.

"If I can't do that, Simmons said, "I'll be working for bengals.com."

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NFL CAN REVIEW RULING: ** The Bengals aren't commenting on the NFL's belief it can review running back Corey Dillon's stipulation of continuance in a Federal Way, Wash., court last month. But the consensus is the Pro Bowler will most likely only get a fine and not a suspension if the league even decides to dole out a sanction.

CBS Sportsline reported Tuesday night that the NFL expects to review an agreement reached in court that stems from the charge of fourth-degree assault against Dillon last August in an incident involving his wife.

Last month, Dillon agreed to pay a woman's shelter $250 and undergo counseling in exchange for a chance at having his record expunged next year.

Those close to Dillon felt the stipulation didn't expose him to league sanctions because there was no admission of guilt.

But according to the NFL personal conduct policy, a player can be sanctioned if he agrees to a diversionary program.

But it seems doubtful the league would levy any kind of suspension, given Dillon and his wife reconciled shortly after the incident and the case was driven by prosecutors and not her.

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