Bengals opt for corner

10-23-01, 1:55 p.m.

BY GEOFF HOBSON

With their depth at cornerback becoming more alarming with each injury, the Bengals have opted not to sign a kicker to the practice squad.

Instead, they welcomed their first XFL refugee to the Bengals' roster when they gave the last practice squad spot to cornerback Kevin Kaesviharn after Tuesday's workout at Paul Brown Stadium.

The 6-1, 190-pound Kaesviharn, 25, is also an Arena League veteran who failed to hook on with Green Bay during this past training camp.

"Kevin had a great workout and it's a spot where we've become thin," said Bengals vice president Paul Brown. "He's got good size and good feet and we want to take a longer look at him."

The Bengals also tried out kickers Jaret Holmes, Vitaly Pisetsky, and Jon Hilbert, and told them they would keep in touch. They are still concerned about Neil Rackers' 6-for-12 inconsistency on field goals. But with more kickers than cornerbacks available on the market, they figure one of them, as well as others, will be available. Plus, they feel a

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cornerback benefits more from practice.

"I've been banging around since training camp," said Kasviharn, who worked out for Jacksonville and San Diego after he got cut from Green Bay. "I understand the game well. I can pick up some keys here and there. That's what I pride myself on."

Ironicaly, a season-ending torn hamstring to another former arena cornerback, Rodney Heath, help get Kaesviharn his shot here. Not to mention the hamstring injury that looks like it will keep Robert Bean out of Sunday's game in Detroit.

After playing for Division II Augustana (S.D.) College, Kaesviharn returned to his alma mater the next season to coach the secondary. But he missed playing and his head coach got him a tryout with the Iowa Barnstormers, the Arena team where Rams quarterback Kurt Warner began his improbable career.

Kaesviharn played in Iowa for two years, where in 2000 he set a club record with 14 interceptions while becoming just one of three players to have a 100-tackle season in the AFL. Kaesviharn, who did the horizontal jump for his college track team, also had three catches for 43 yards and a touchdown.

Then he hooked on with the San Francisco Demons of the XFL this past spring and helped them get to the championship game against Los Angeles as a starter. He picked off a club-high three passes in 10 games with no nickname on the back of his jersey.

"I just used my last name," Kaesviharn said. "If you see how I spell it, it looks like a nickname. I didn't get caught up in that (XFL) hype. I was focused on using the league to get a shot in the NFL and so far it's worked out."

It's the second straight week the Bengals picked up a rookie cornerback. Bo Jennings got the call from the Lions practice squad and ended up making his NFL debut last Sunday against the Bears.

The former Bengals' punting-kicking duo of Lee Johnson and Doug Pelfrey is also on the market, but the Bengals don't appear ready to go in that direction. Johnson reportedly has a workout lined up in Tampa Bay and the Bengals aren't convinced Pelfrey can kick off.

"All I can say is that I can. They haven't seen me in a few years," Pelfrey said.

Pelfrey mailed out videos of his workouts to the NFC Monday and the AFC Tuesday, with each team getting two each.

"I feel like I'm the kid in class who has the answer and raises his hand, but doesn't get called on," Pelfrey said. "I feel good. I'll keep working out and see if I get a team to notice the tape."

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