BY GEOFF HOBSON
The Bengals head into this week's preparation for Sunday's opener against the Browns pretty much set with their roster. The Broncos cut veteran wide receiver and maybe Hall-of-Famer Andre Reed's 941 career catches before the NFL opened its season Sunday. But Reed turns 37 the month after the season ends and the Bengals don't appear willing to lop one of their youngsters in exchange for a one-year player.
Cincinnati is getting anxious to play after sitting around watching everybody else work Sunday. Bengals President Mike Brown kept a keen eye on Jacksonville's 27-7 win over the Browns since the Bengals host Cleveland Sunday before traveling to Jacksonville Sept. 17.
"Cleveland is much improved," Brown said. "The game was closer than the score indicated and things would have been pretty interesting if they hadn't fumbled early in the third quarter. Jacksonville looked smart, clever and moved the ball well. Their quarterback (Mark Brunell) is so effective for them because he's very accurate and steady."
Brown felt funny all day Sunday with the opening-week bye.
"We all like a bye during the football season, but the first week is not the week to have it," Brown said. "You feel left out, like you weren't invited to the party."
PELFREY POISED: Another guy who felt funny watching Sunday was former Bengals kicker Doug Pelfrey, but he too could be working by this Sunday. The Carolina Panthers are the leading candidate after angry coach George Seifert indicated a move would be made today following Richie Cunningham's field-goal miss in the Panthers' 20-17 loss to Washington. The Panthers were reportedly spending the afternoon talking about bringing in Pelfrey, or another veteran (Joe Nedney?) after Cunningham has missed three attempts in the past two games.
"It was tough watching, no question about it," said Pelfrey today of Sunday's slate of games. "I feel like I'm one of the top 31 kickers. There's a lot of should-haves and would-haves, but the bottom line is I have to be patient and wait. Being a vested veteran has worked against me and it killed me to get cut when I did because teams have (salary) cap problems."
Pelfrey, the Bengals' second all-time leading scorer, should get some play now that the first week is over and teams aren't obligated to pay a vested veteran his entire salary because he's on the Opening Day roster. Pelfrey took a quick getaway to the Smokey Mountains, but is back and working out again at the University of Cincinnati with former Bengals, punter Brad Costello and long-snapper Greg Truitt.