Bengals slot Warrick

3-12-01 BY GEOFF HOBSON

It took just one look, but Peter Warrick's first glance at the new Bengals' offense had him looking for more.

With Darnay Scott ticketed to move from flanker to split end once he recovers from his broken leg, Warrick gets to stay in his rookie position at flanker after a promising yet inconsistent season he made 51 catches but none of his contract incentives.

Warrick says it doesn't much matter what the wideouts are called in offensive coordinator Bob Bratkowski's playbook. It's a system he says that makes it easier to remember plays because pass routes are identified by numbers and not a series of words.

"Now we've got the numbers system," said Warrick Monday after arriving at Paul Brown Stadium to begin off-season workouts. "If you learn one position, you learn all three."

Receivers coach Steve Mooshagian likes Warrick at flanker because it's easier to slide him into the slot in those three-receiver sets the Bengals look ready to use more often than in the past.

"I like the slot. You're usually going against a nickel back or a linebacker," said Warrick, a big believer in three receivers. "I think it will be better. You have everybody spread out and you never know who's going to get the ball. Never know when Corey (Dillon) is going to get it, too."

Mooshagian's numbers showed Warrick actually weighed less than he did at the end of last season at 202 pounds wearing his clothes. And that the offense should fit him just as well, since the scheme Bratkowski ran in Seattle is close to what Warrick had at Florida State.

"A lot of the routes are going to be close to what he ran in college," Mooshagian said. "And it shouldn't be much of a transition, either, for Darnay because a lot of the calls are going to similar for him."

Quarterback Akili Smith also arrived back in town Monday. And while Warrick wondered how Smith would take the news of the Bengals signing another quarterback, he said he got good reviews from Seattle receiver Darrell Jackson on former Seahawks quarterback Jon Kitna.

"He told me Kitna's a great quarterback, a spiritual person," Warrick said. "He said he liked him."

A chipper Warrick arrived back in town with some goals:

The Pro Bowl: "The only reason I came here (early) is to get better. I want to have a better year than last year. I want to accomplish more goals. I want to try to and make it to the Pro Bowl. I'm from Bradenton (Florida), it's a small town. I want to represent where I'm from."

After skating for a touchdown on an 82-yard punt return in the win over Jacksonville on the next-to-last Sunday of the season, Warrick is looking to get some more chances.

"What's the record for punt returns?" asked Warrick, wondering the record for punt return touchdowns in a season. "Let's do that."

(Note: The NFL record is four. The Bengals' record is two and is shared by Lemar Parrish and Craig Yeast, the man Warrick is fighting for a spot.)

Turning around a dismal season in what was the worst record of Warrick's life:

"We get Darnay back. Great Scott comes back and we get Corey Dillon back. I think it can just turn around. You never know what the season may hold. Losing makes you love winning. You can't be a good football team unless you start from the bottom and work your way up. . .Get all the right guys, get nice draft picks, I think we're a better team. New coach, new offensive coordinator. Things are going to be a whole turnaround. . ."

As always with receivers, quarterbacks are always on the mind. Warrick said he spoke to Smith once after his DUI arrest last month, but not about that, and he said Smith sounded ready to play.

"It would motivate me," said Warrick of the Kitna move. "Hopefully, (Smith) will take it like that and it will help him become a better player."

But even Warrick is asking.

"Who's going to start?"

There's no question he thinks his old quarterback at Florida State, Chris Weinke, could come in and push both Kitna and Smith. Weinke is a guy who interests the Bengals in the draft and should be around in the third or fourth round.

"That's my dog right there," Warrick said. "We get Weinke and I know he'd put some pressure on who ever it is. He's smart, he loves studying film. That's what it's all about. The quarterback has to take control and be the leader of the team no matter what. He's the backbone. If Weinke comes in, I know it. He's old, too."

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