11-01-01, 11:20 a.m.
BY GEOFF HOBSON
Neil Rackers got the message loud and clear Thursday when the Bengals signed former Giants kicker Jaret Holmes to the practice squad.
Holmes, a kickoff artist who was 2-for-2 on field goals last year for the Giants, joins his third NFL practice squad since an All-SEC senior season at Auburn in 1997.
Rackers, the club's sixth-round pick in 2000, continued to have problems during the 31-27 victory in Detroit last Sunday. He made a 39-yard field goal, but also missed a 47-yarder and is now 4-for-11 since he hit his first three field-goal tries of the season.
"Neil is our guy for now, but everyone knows we have to get our field-goal percentage up and this guy is an option if he falters," said Bengals President Mike Brown. "Holmes is a powerful guy who had a very
productive college career. And he's also a backup punter, so he's got a very good leg."
Holmes, 25, played in four games last year for New York. He made all his kicks, three extra points and field goals of 34 and 27 yards, in the two games he replaced injured Brad Dalusio. He also was the kickoff man for the Giants in the last two games of the regular season before being inactive for the playoffs and getting released in training camp before this season.
Holmes, who set an Auburn record with 12 straight field goals while putting 39 of his 64 kickoffs into the end zone for touchbacks, broke into the NFL with the Bears in 1999 after the Eagles cut him before the 1998 season. In the '99 finale, he hit the first two field goals of his career from 39 and 31 yards.
Holmes made nine of 12 field-goal tries while with Berlin during the 2000 NFL Europe season.