Dillon sits out

8-4-01, 8:00 p.m.

BY GEOFF HOBSON

CHICAGO _ Bengals Pro Bowl running back Corey Dillon wasn't expected to play as Cincinnati prepared to open the pre-season here against the Bears at Soldier Field.

Bengals head coach Dick LeBeau, who didn't play Dillon in last week's intrasquad scrimmage, has reasons that are twofold for holding off Dillon until as late as the Aug. 25 home opener against the Bills. He has indicated he doesn't want to beat up the offense's meal ticket, but he does want to take a long look at veteran backups Brandon Bennett, Curtis Keaton and Michael Basnight, as well as fourth-round pick Rudi Johnson, in a tight roster fight at running back.

There's a good chance

Dillon won't play this Friday in Detroit because the Silverdome Astroturf has been extremely unkind to the Bengals in recent preseasons. It's where the NFL Draft's overall No. 1 pick, Ki-Jana Carter, ripped up a knee ACL on the third carry of his career in 1995.

Bengals rookie tight end Sean Brewer didn't play after pulling a hamstring in Wednesday night's practice, which might limit the number of formations offensive coordinator Bob Bratkowski could use.

With Marco Battaglia out with a knee cartilage tear, the Bengals were down to basically two tight ends in Tony McGee and Kirk McMullen, a first-year player who has yet to take a snap in an NFL regular-season game. Still, the Bengals want to see if Brad St. Louis, who is used mainly as a long snapper, can play significant amount of time from scrimmage.

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