First contact

5-16-02, 4:20 p.m.

Updated: 5-16-02, 10:50 p.m.

BY GEOFF HOBSON

After the optometrist told Peter Warrick his eyes made the ball look more like a basketball than a football the closer it gets to him, the Bengals wide receiver decided it was time to get fitted for contact lenses.

He said he expects to pick them up Friday and hopes his trouble with high punts is at an end-over-end.

"The doctor said my peripheral vision is great, but said I might have trouble with (the ball that is) dead on,"

Warrick said. "I think it's been a bigger effect on the punts because they're high and right over my head."

Warrick eventually got benched in one game last year because of his inability to prevent punts from rolling inside his own 10-yard line. Now that he thinks about it, his eyes might have been a factor.

He said there were times he thought he was right under the punt, but that he would be taken by surprise when it suddenly appeared to the side. Which would force him to lunge for the ball or back off it completely because he was caught off guard.

Warrick also thinks the contacts will help him catch passes right over his head, although he did a good job cutting his drops from his rookie season to last season.

As early as his rookie season two years ago, the Bengals thought Warrick needed contacts. He admits he's a little uneasy about trying to put in the contacts.

But. . . .

"Whatever you have to do to make it right," he said.

**

STUNTS AND BLITZES:**

Free safety Cory Hall gave the club a scare Thursday when he landed flush on his left shoulder after making a diving interception. Trainer Paul Sparling told him he'll have some pain for about a month, but he can practice and do whatever he wants: "It's a mild sprain and he's fine." . . .

Rookie tight end Matt Schobel returned to work in limited fashion Thursday and while his nagging hamstring isn't 100 percent, he said it's much better than it was last week. . .

The Bengals signed Thursday wide receiver Chris Archie, a college free agent out of Eastern Michigan University, to a two-year contract. The 6-4, 207-pound Archie had 22 catches for 207 yards and two touchdowns in 11 games and three starts for the Eagles in 2001. A native of Detroit, Archie was with the University of Cincinnati from 1997-98. He redshirted as a freshman in '97, and played in 10 games for the Bearcats in '98 with 11 catches for 176 yards and one touchdown. . . .

The agent for seventh-round pick Joey Evans expects to have a deal soon now that the third- and sixth-round picks are in: "Both sides have shown a willingness to get it done quickly and I expect it will get done shortly," said Mike Tolliver . . .

**

ROLL CALL: ** All but three healthy starters showed at Thursday's voluntary practice. About 65 of 75 available players checked in with more expected Friday, such as fourth-round pick Travis Dorsch. Tackle Oliver Gibson, who has been nursing a sore shoulder, was the only defensive starter not there. On offense, left tackle Richmond Webb was with his ill daughter in Texas and fullback Lorenzo Neal is finishing up a real estate course in Nashville.

**

JONES RUNS WITH NO. 1s:** Without the aid of a soothsayer, the future briefly appeared on the Paul Brown Stadium practice fields Thursday morning.

For the first time in his career, first-round pick Levi Jones lined up extensively with the Bengals' first team during a voluntary practice.

But when exactly is that future? Maybe a soothsayer would be handy.

"All I know is we don't line up tomorrow," said offensive line coach Paul Alexander. "It's not here yet. When it's here, you'll see him out there."

He was out there Thursday because left tackle Richmond Webb is back home in Texas with his ill daughter. Jones took all the snaps with the first team and two-thirds of the practice snaps in his first workout with the club since last week's minicamp. Alexander spent most of the line's individual period getting Jones familiar with left guard Matt O'Dwyer in pass-rush

situations involving stunts and games by the defensive line.

"The (defensive line) doesn't always line up head over you. They're trying to get to the quarterback in anyway and you see more of that on this level," said O'Dwyer, the eight-year veteran who is getting used to his fourth left tackle (Webb, John Jackson, Rod Jones ) in his fourth season with the Bengals.

"It's not that big of a

deal," O'Dwyer said. "It's a matter of getting used to a guy. It's not so much a mental thing for him. It's about getting enough repetitions."

Being in sync with each other is one of the reasons why keeping an offensive line intact is so important and why the decision when to go with Jones is so critical. Bengals President Mike Brown and head coach Dick LeBeau have suggested it is probably going to happen some time this season.

"It's just not skill, ability or talent," Alexander said. "It's how well you do your stuff in coordination with the guy next to you."

Jones admits he's got a little ways to go. Although Alexander continues to be impressed with his mental grasp of the game ("He didn't miss a block today"), Jones is still feeling his way around after just his fourth NFL workout.

"My techniques and foot work weren't what they should be and I'm trying to get that down," Jones said. "The left side is the side most under attack (on the pass rush) and I'm trying to get a feel for O'Dwyer and he's trying to get a feel for me. I'm doing it the way the college coaches teach it and they want you to attack the linemen. Here, they want me to set back and wait, so that's different for me."

Like everybody but ESPN, the 6-5, 310-pound Jones continues to impress with his agility and quickness. O'Dwyer, acclaimed as the NFL's strongest man, joked, "It's hard to tell about that playing next to me, the best athlete on the line," but he was serious when he talked about Jones' reaction skills.

"A lot of times in this league you might get beat," O'Dwyer said, "but it's that recovery move that gets you back and allows you to make a play. He's definitely quick enough to recover. You just hope it doesn't reach that point very often. No doubt he's an athlete."

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