BY GEOFF HOBSON
The key to it all showed up at Friday's practice. And Darnay Scott could relate to his fellow receivers because he was a rookie once, too.
"Once I learned the system and then once I learned the opponent, I was cool," Scott said as he watched the offense that's been broken since he broke his leg Aug. 1.
"It took a little more than a year," he said. "That's why I'm not too mad with the young boys. Everybody out there is young."
Scott read quarterback Akili Smith's comments the other day in which he said he's not the only one to blame for a poor passing game. Sometimes, Smith said, his receivers have been in the wrong spot. Scott said he knows what Smith was saying.
"He's saying, 'Sometimes I'm used to throwing to a certain spot in practice and in a game (the receivers) are in another spot. How am I supposed to throw the ball there?'" Scott said. "That's all I saw. It was no finger pointing. Akili was mad everybody was pointing the finger at him and it's just not him. It's the whole offense."
Now that Scott's new home in St Louis is near completion, he says he's going to be in Cincinnati more to do what he can to help a receiving corps of rookies and second-year players.
Remember last year when Scott knocked on the Pro Bowl door with 1,022 yards and seven touchdowns? After six games, the Bengals' five wide receivers are on pace for a combined 1,261 yards and five touchdowns.
"I'm going to start being around a lot more," Scott said. "See if it's my experience that can pump the boys up and get the boys going. Hopefully my experience can help them out."
But the Bengals are missing Scott's stretch-the-field, 4.4 40-yard dash speed that was more like 4.21 when the ball was in the air, as much as his six seasons and 329 career catches.
Secondaries can now jump the Bengals' routes using single coverage without fear of getting beat deep.
"I wouldn't say that," Scott said. "(Craig) Yeast is the second fastest guy (after Scott) and I know he can get down the field. I'm sure Peter (Warrick) and (Ron Dugans) can get down the field."
They can, but the Bengals have one pass of more than 40 yards to a wide receiver this season, and that was a 46-yarder to Warrick in the opener. Warrick had a 28-yarder the next week, and the longest in the last four games is a 22-yarder to Yeast.
In 18 games during his career, Scott has at least one catch of 46 yards or more. But it hurts him to hear how much his loss has hurt the Bengals
"It kills me to see these young boys not succeeding on the field," Scott said. "It kills me. Everybody is talking all this old Bengals and Bungles and all that. I hate that. That kills me. I kick people out of my house every week for that stuff. I don't play that crap."
The only thing younger than Scott's fellow receivers seems to be Scott's broken fibula and tibia in his left leg. The doctors say he has the bones of an 18-year-old and call his rehab smooth enough that he could be back in time for next spring's minicamp.
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"He's right on schedule," said Bengals trainer Paul Sparling. "He hasn't had any of the complications that could be associated with putting in a rod to help a bone heal, such as the risk of infection. The bone is healing just the way it should be."
Sparling says Scott can begin light jogging in two to three weeks and serious speed work in eight weeks. At the moment, Scott is off crutches, riding a bike and swimming.
The Bengals want Scott on the same speed program he took last season because they know speed is what makes him so unique and they think he can overcome the break and return with the same game-breaking speed with intensive rehab. Scott wants to show the naysayers he can come back as quick as ever.
"Nothing is going to be easy," Scott said. "When I'm ready to run, I'll be sprinting. I'm not going to be jogging around the park. I'm going to be sprinting."