BY GEOFF HOBSON -
Running back Michael Basnight undergoes surgey on his broken right wrist Tuesday morning and is lost for the next eight to 10 weeks. But the Bengals say there are no attractive free-agents on the market and are sticking with the players already here in training camp.
"At this time of the year, you play with what you got," said Jim Lippincott, the Bengals director of pro/college personnel. "It's not a disabling injury. (Basnight) will be back by the fourth or fifth game. So he's inactive on Sunday and the backs you keep on your (final) 53-man roster move up a spot."
Brandon Bennett continues to run No. 1, but there is little separation between him and Sedrick Shaw and fourth-round draft pick Curtis Keaton. And today, running backs coach Jim Anderson started giving fullback Nick Williams the ball in the one-back set and as the running back in a two-back set behind fullback Clif Groce. The 265-pound Williams didn't carry the ball in Saturday's scrimmage, but he'll get the call in Friday's preseason opener in Buffalo as the Bengals scramble to try and find a mix.
"We'll stick with our offense," Anderson said. "We'll try to balance it with the run and pass instead of just going to a one-back set because we can do these things with the guys we have."
Williams said he wasn't all that surprised he didn't get a carry in the scrimmage, but he figures he's going to get it a little more. Last year, Williams tore up the scrimmage before suffering a high ankle sprain that hobbled him the rest of the season.
"Last year was different with CD," said Williams of running back Corey Dillon. "We were basically all just filling in for him and there was more room to experiment. This year we've got four tailbacks and they need to get their carries."
Bennett, 27, looked like he's recovered from his reconstructive knee surgery of 14 months ago, taking on tacklers up the middle with 13 yards on two carries in the scrimmage.
"I like Bennett's vision, explosiveness, strength and especially his hands," Lippincott said. "I like Shaw's open-field running, his hands and he's taking it inside more. Curtis is behind the others, but he's learning the offense."
ROMAN NUMERAL:The Bengals are expecting a new proposal from Joel Segal, the agent for second-round pick Mark Roman. The club is also looking at ways it could possibly end the stalemate without giving Roman a voidable year. Meanwhile, Bengals President Mike Brown says the club's cornerback situation is different than when it drafted Roman with the emergence of fifth-rounder Rober Bean and free agent rookie Brian Gray.
"We're not as weak or as thin there as we thought," Brown said. "We like Gray. We like Bean."
THIS and THAT:Defensive end Michael Bankston was in rare form today. He was sitting in a golf cart, his partially torn right calf muscle wrapped and a crutch by his side. By his own count, Bankston thinks he's never missed two straight days of training camp in nine NFL seasons. Now he'll miss the next three weeks, but he says he'll return in plenty of time for the Sept. 10 opener to keep his career-long streak of 128 straight games intact.
Bankston, 30, has missed just two preseason games in his career and that was two years ago with the Bengals when he had arthroscopic knee surgery. But that was by the time the Bengals broke camp.
"It always feels funny for me to watch a game in person if I'm not on the sidelines," Bankston said. "I don't like it. I don't like it now. I'm sure I'll be back, but I'm not used to the rehab routine." . . .
The Bengals backed off rookie receiver Ron Dugans and his tender hamstring today. . .Left guard Matt O'Dwyer found himself on a 12-foot soup spoon today as Campbell's Chunky Soup looked to give the Cincinnati Free Store/Food Bank ten times the number of soup cans it took to lift the 304-pound O'Dwyer off the ground. O'Dwyer came through with a figure that gave the store 3,800 cans.