Frerotte likes what he hears

4-29-02, 1:00 a.m.

BY GEOFF HOBSON

Gus Frerotte said Sunday he's convinced head coach Dick LeBeau plans to give him a shot to win the Bengals quarterback job and would like to play for him if agent Marvin Demoff can work out a contract in talks he expects to continue Monday.

Frerotte also said his side plans to talk to the Broncos Monday about returning to Denver for a third straight season to back up Brian Griese.

Frerotte, who turned down virtually the same four-year, $12 million deal Jon Kitna signed 13 months ago in Cincinnati to stay in Denver last year for $1 million, spent last Wednesday at Paul Brown Stadium trying to get a feel for the club's quarterback situation. After he and his wife dined with LeBeau before driving back to their native Pittsburgh, Frerotte felt good enough about the opportunity the head coach presented to give Demoff the go-ahead.

"Marvin has been working on an offer to give the Bengals Monday

and we'll see what happens," Frerotte said. "I'm very impressed with Coach LeBeau and he told me several times in the conversation that I would get a chance. I liked him last year when we sat down and talked the first time. It just didn't work out and sometimes that happens."

The Bengals gave Demoff an offer Friday, but also told him they are flexible when it comes to structure and length. They figure they can give him the big thing the Broncos can't, which is the chance to return to the starting role he had with Washington in the mid 1990s. In his last extended stint, Frerotte led the Broncos to a 4-2 record in 2000 while playing for the injured Griese.

Frerotte, who turns 31 in training camp, said he'd like to get his situation resolved before the Broncos and Bengals start their minicamps this weekend.

For their part, the Bengals want to sign a veteran to join Kitna, Akili Smith and Scott Covington by the time the club meets Friday night at PBS in the first team meeting of the year.

Kitna said last week it doesn't bother him that LeBeau is saying the quarterback spot is like all the other positions and that competition in training camp and pre-season games will yield "the best player." Kitna is bidding to become the first Bengals quarterback in five years to start back-to-back Opening Days. The last to do it was Jeff Blake in 1996-97.

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