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Bengals spread QB field to add LeFevour, cut O'Sullivan

Dan LeFevour

Updated: 5:15 p.m.

The Bengals' patience with veteran backup quarterback J.T. O'Sullivan ran out so thoroughly Sunday that they opted to start from scratch behind Carson Palmer and claimed on waivers Bears rookie quarterback Dan LeFevour.

With O'Sullivan released, that promoted third-year man Jordan Palmer to No. 2 behind his brother. There are now seven NFL completions sitting behind Carson and all seven belong to Jordan.

The Bengals also announced seven players on the practice squad, leaving one spot open. It's not clear if rookie wide receiver Dez Briscoe cleared waivers, but he's not one of the seven.

Briscoe's agent, Eric Burkhardt, said Sunday that he was waiting to hear if any other clubs had claimed his client. He said the Bengals have offered him a spot on the practice squad but they plan to sift through their options Sunday night if he's not claimed.

Tight end Chase Coffman didn't get claimed and was brought back to the squad. So were guard Otis Hudson, defensive tackle Clinton McDonald, safeties Jeromy Miles and Rico Murray, linebacker Vincent Rey and fullback Joe Tronzo.

The 6-3, 230-pound LeFevour, a sixth-round pick out of Central Michigan, had a rough go of it in Chicago in the preseason and was ticketed for the practice squad when the Bears brought in 38-year-old Todd Collins in mid-August. The thinking in Chicago is that LeFevour is a long-term project not game ready, but he did show flashes late as he grappled with the transition from the college spread to the pro game. Against the Cardinals in the third preseason game he hit on 10 of 12 passes for 100 yards and had a touchdown pass.

That's one more score than O'Sullivan had in a preseason he led the team with 114 snaps and had a passer rating of 64.3 on a 58 passing percentage with two interceptions. Jordan Palmer had the second most with 109 and finished with a 71.4 rating that included three touchdown passes, three interceptions (two for touchdowns), and 55.8 passing percentage.

Apparently the Bengals were never seriously interested in former Cardinals quarterback Matt Leinart. And LeFevour fits the profile of the kind of guy they eventually want to back up Carson Palmer: A young No. 3 they can develop and not a journeyman. And, not a vested veteran before Opening Day. 

LeFevour struggled with his accuracy in the preseason, completing just 46 percent of his passes (19-for-4) for 204 yards with that one touchdown and one interception. Bengals quarterbacks coach Ken Zampese came to the Mount Pleasant, Mich., campus to work out LeFevour before the draft and he chatted with offensive coordinator Bob Bratkowski at the Senior Bowl. The one connection is that Zampese worked with Bears offensive coordinator Mike Martz in St. Louis and so LeFevour might recognize some portions of the playbook.

And talk about a small world. The new University of Cincinnati coach is LeFevour's college head coach, Butch Jones. Fellow rookies Geno Atkins and Jordan Shipley are represented by the same agency, Pat Dye Jr.'s ProFiles Sports in Atlanta.

But LeFevour is still going to have the same obstacles he had in Chicago. Before he got drafted, he hadn't taken a snap under center since high school in Downers Grove, Ill.

"I (knew) it was going to be a big transition for me just going from a spread offense to an under-center offense," LeFevour said in a conference call Sunday. "New terminology and a new way of doing things. There was a whole lot of stuff I had to get used to. I knew it was going to take some time, but the more I was playing the more I was getting better."

LeFevour used the spread offense at Central Michigan to run and pass his way into the record books. There is no doubting his athleticism. He's the only player in NCAA major school history with more than 12,000 career passing yards and 2,500 career rushing yards. He had a hand in a major-school record 150 touchdowns, passing for 102 while rushing for a school-record 47 and scoring one as a receiver. He completed 66 percent of his passes for 12,905 yards while rushing for 2,948 at 4.3 per carry.

But LeFevour realizes he has to play a different game under center.

"You have a different view point of the field," he said. "It changes everything a little bit. You take it for granted. It's definitely a bigger adjustment than you think. Everything is a jump or two from the college level. Running a new offense, speed of the game, reading the schemes, all those things come together to make this level just a little more difficult."

LeFevour says he still keeps in touch with Jones and managed to keep an eye on his debut at Fresno State on Saturday night, a 28-14 downer for UC, even as his world had been turned upside down with the release from the Bears.

The Bears told him to show up at Halas Hall at noon Sunday and were prepared to put him on the practice squad.

"I knew what today was about," he said of the uncertainty. "I wasn't sure what was going to happen. I was just keeping an open mind. Luckily I landed in a place like Cincinnati where I at least have some connections and know some guys on the team so the transition won't be that bad."

Jordan Palmer says he's grateful for the opportunity if the Bengals do officially make him the No. 2.

"It gives me a chance to contribute more than I have," he said. "I'm excited about it. There's more pressure. There's more on the line. That's what I want. I want to move up in the league. The whole thing is getting as well prepared as you can because when you go in you're not going in with any (practice) snaps."

And he's got some empathy for LeFevour. Palmer also came out of a spread at Texas-El Paso.

"Never had a checkdown (pass) in college," Palmer said. "I'll be able to help him with that."

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