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Farmer out until bye?

9-11-02, 5:00 p.m.


When it rains, it rains.

Wide receiver Danny Farmer is lost for what looks to be five games after suffering a high-grade sprain of the posterior cruciate ligament in his left knee during Wednesday's practice.

Farmer, who along with kicker Neil Rackers was the most productive Bengal in Sunday's 34-6 loss to the Chargers, got tangled with cornerback Kevin Kaesviharn when they went airborne for a sideline pass. He suffered the injury when he fell on his knee as he came down.

Bengals trainer Paul Sparling said he expects Farmer to return after the Bengals' Oct. 20 bye week, but didn't rule out a quicker comeback.

"Anything before the bye week would be a bonus," Sparling said. "He's obviously going to be in here seven days a week rehabbing, so he could come back quicker, but the bye week is what I'm looking at."

Farmer became the first Bengal to catch a pass longer than 50 yards in 34 games Sunday when he busted a crossing route up the sideline for a 51-yard gain. He finished as the Bengals' leading receiver with 54 yards on two catches, but now his injury probably means more snaps for Ron Dugans at the split-end receiver. T.J. Houshmandzadeh (groin), another split end, sat out Wednesday's practice but is expected to be ready for Sunday.

It's a tough break because many inside and outside the club feel Farmer and Houshmandzadeh have been their most reliable receivers.

But Farmer can't get rid of the injuries that have hounded him since the Steelers took him in the fourth round of the 2000 draft. When the Bengals picked him up off waivers just before the season, he had a tender ankle. Before he caught seven balls in the final three games of last year that included the tying touchdown against Pittsburgh, he missed two games with a sprained ankle.

Late in his terrific camp this past May, he pulled a hamstring that he aggravated a few weeks later and he missed the first two preseason games.

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