10-25-01, 3:55 p.m.
BY GEOFF HOBSON
Ligarius "Bo," Jennings, named for a Shakespeare character, finds himself in an ironic twist that only the Bard would love when the Bengals play in Detroit Sunday.
Jennings is in just his second week with the Bengals' decimated secondary since he landed on the active roster from the Lions practice squad.
But he's helping his new teammates as much as he's helping them. Jennings, who practiced every day against the Detroit receivers, is giving the Bengals a crash
course on a corps that is just as injured as the Bengals' cornerbacks.
Nickel back Tom Carter was downgraded to questionable Thursday with continuing soreness in his right knee and didn't practice. But head coach Dick LeBeau said, "We think there's a good probability Tom will be able to play."
When Carter and Robert Bean went down last Sunday against the Bears, Jennings had to make his NFL debut after one week of practice with his new team. With the way the Lions are passing, Jennings figures to get plenty of time against his old team.
"I don't have anything against them," Jennings said. "I thought I was good enough to make the team. But I'm getting a chance here."
The Bengals head to Detroit with dramatic timing. They face the Lions' third-rated pass offense in the NFL in the week quarterback Charlie Batch is coming off the first 300-yard games of his career without two cornerbacks in Bean and Rodney Heath.
Of course, the Lions are nearly as banged up at receiver. Their big play people, Herman Moore and Germane Crowell, are on injured reserve. Little-used Desmond Howard caught his first touchdown pass in six years last week, rookie Scotty Anderson is expected to dress for his first game, and Bert Emanuel arrives hot off the waiver wire from the Patriots.
Plus, Batch didn't practice again Thursday with shoulder tendinitis. He's expected to play Sunday, but he may not practice Friday, either.
"Batch has a lot of poise," Jennings said. "He's got an accurate arm and a quick release. He can move, too."
Batch still has veteran receiver Johnnie Morton, one of the more solid guys around who is coming off his third 100-yard game of the season. He'll start along with second-year player Larry Foster, who has six catches after grabbing 17 as a rookie.
"He's very fast," Jennings said of Foster. "You can't be grabbing for him because he'll go by you. (Morton) is a big guy. You have to get right on top of him. Scotty Anderson is a very good player. A lot of people up there are wondering why he hasn't been playing."
The 5-8, 202-pound Jennings spent some time wondering why he wasn't drafted out of Tennessee State. Draft gurus such as Mel Kiper Jr., (who rated him the 129th player in the country) thought highly of him.
But Jennings thinks he didn't get the call because had to play some safety because of injuries and a leg injury slowed his 40-yard time at the combine to 4.59 seconds.
"I think they're going to come at me," Jennings said. "They're going to try and single me up and come at me. I think I've got a little bit of an advantage because I know which guys can run and who has a knack for doing what."
Bears rookie David Terrell got some yards on Jennings last week, so he went back to the drawing board. He comes in early (7:30 a.m.), leaves late (5:30 p.m.), and says he has been taking back to the hotel enough video, "for a theater full."
"What I did, I did to myself," Jennings said of the Bears' game. "I have to see what I did wrong and correct it."