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Foley listening to Lewis

8-27-03, 5:15 p.m.


If anyone can see how a Marvin Lewis defense is melding with a Leslie Frazier defense, it's end Carl Powell. Powell played for Lewis in Baltimore and Washington, has a training camp with Frazier under his belt, and he can at least give a view from the trenches.

"It's like day and night. They're different schemes," Powell says. "Basically, it's all Leslie's stuff. There was a little more movement up front with Marvin. More games and stunts inside. It's a little more straight up here on the line. It looks like there's more blitzing. Marvin is right in with it because he's on everyone getting them to pay attention to detail."

that seems to be the marriage. Taking the blitzing, eight-man fronts of Frazier's Eagles and Bears and uniting it with the front-seven soundness of Lewis' fundamentally rock-ribbed schemes that rely on speed and savvy.

Which could be why Steve Foley is such an intriguing player for the new regime. Foley has the athleticism of a linebacker and the potential rush skills of an end on passing downs. Which is why he got a look as a pass rusher last Saturday night against Tennessee in addition to his regular work as a strong-side backer as the Bengals seek a more consistent pass rush than the one that has yielded one sack in the last two games.

Lewis liked what he saw out of him as a rusher, reminding him of the guy he coached at the 1998 Senior Bowl. Whether it's enough to edge out a pure-rush defensive end Reinard Wilson for a roster spot P>

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remains to be seen as the roster dance continues.

Foley replaced Wilson for a couple of snaps at left end in the first-team nickel defense, and it looks more and more like he is responding to Lewis harangues. Lewis hasn't been shy about getting on Foley in practice and on the depth chart, where has already taken away his starting linebacker job.

"I think he's getting it. I think he's gotten some of it," says Lewis of Foley's progress the last couple of days. "He's got the body type for a good pass rusher. I know he led the nation in sacks his senior year, but he's got to get it out of him and we have to get it out of him. First, we've got to get him healthy this week." P>There is some speculation that Foley and Wilson are fighting for the same spot even though they play different positions, and that Foley has the edge because he can do more than rush the passer. But, ironically, both players have missed practice this week and are questionable for Friday's pre-season finale in Indianapolis at 8 p.m.. Foley says he's fighting a back bruise and Wilson has a sore hamstring.

Their status Friday night may provide some clues, but there's no question Foley needs some more snaps to flash the same skill that allowed him to rack up 18.5 sacks in 1997 at Northeast Louisiana.

The one good thing is he hasn't minded getting in-your-faced by Lewis, and it may have helped.

"He's just doing his job. He's coaching us and that's what we need," Foley said. "It kind of opened my eyes, kind of opened me up like one of those nasal sprays. He's been on me, but I'm not complaining about it. I'm not ducking in the bushes. I'm just trying to show them what I'm capable of doing. At this point, I'm happy with whatever snaps I get."

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