Bengals sign FB

6-22-01, 3:20 p.m.

BY GEOFF HOBSON

With fullback Ricky Brown being examined in Birmingham, Ala., Friday, the Bengals signed free-agent Kenneth Williams to take his place in training camp.

After signing Will Brice earlier in the week, the club also Friday released rookie free-agent Kent McCullough, a punter out of Miami of Ohio.

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The moves leave the Bengals with 89 players, which means they have to make some more decisions to get to 83 players under contract by the time they start training camp July 20. That's if they sign all seven draft picks before the club convenes at Georgetown College. They are one of seven teams who have yet to sign one draft pick, according to CBS Sportsline.com

Safety/linebacker JoJuan Armour, tight end Kirk McMullen and safety Gary Thompkins are exempted from roster spots because they are playing in NFL Europe.

That's where Brown got hurt a few days ago with the Berlin Thunder and the Bengals anticipate putting him on injured reserve for the rest of the year with a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his knee.

The 6-1, 259-pound Williams, 24, has been out of the NFL since Jacksonville released him just before the start of last season. The Jaguars signed him last year as a free agent out of Florida A&M, where he scored 30 touchdowns, caught 51 passes, and averaged 5.3 yards on 449 career carries.

But Bengals running backs coach Jim Anderson doesn't envision Williams carrying the ball much at camp.

"He's a big, strong guy who has had to make the adjustment from college and become a blocker," Anderson said. "He knows what he is and he is truly a fullback."

Williams goes to Georgetown hard pressed to make the team as the third-string fullback behind starter Lorenzo Neal and Clif Groce.

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BASNIGHT REHABBING: ** Running back Michael Basnight, who missed all last season with a broken wrist, expects to be cleared to run Wednesday. That will be 22 days after arthroscopic surgery to repair a small knee cartilage tear. For the past few days, Basnight has been lifting weights and working on the underwater treadmill.

LEBEAU INTERCEPTS GRAY: Carlton Gray, one of the newest Bengals, got to chat with head coach Dick LeBeau for the first time Friday. Gray, the old Academic All-American from UCLA, can count. So he knows right away that he's 50 career interceptions behind LeBeau, 62-12. When the two cornerbacks met, Gray set the record straight.

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"You don't get 62 interceptions on a fluke," Gray said. "Before he said anything, I told him, 'I just want to learn from you and your defense,' because he's been successful everywhere he's been. I really feel comfortable with a guy like that who played the position so well. You know you're going to learn something."

Cornerbacks coach Kevin Coyle is trying to make sure of that. Coyle gave Gray one of the videotapes he made for all his players before they left the May voluntary camp. The tape features Coyle narrating an instructional video of the corner's role in the Bengals' defense.

"I've never seen that before, but I like it," Gray said. "Right away, it tells you what they want and what they don't want. That's helpful to have even before you go through the playbook."

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