"get the party started"

BY GEOFF HOBSON

GEORGETOWN, Ky. _ That's what first-round draft pick Peter Warrick said this morning as he walked through the door into the NFL here at Bengals' training camp.

"It's going to be real exciting. That's what it's going to be. A big old party," said Akili Smith, Warrick's quarterback, before tonight's first practice. "We should have a lot of fun. We've got a lot of young guys who weren't a part of what happened in the '90s and I just want to erase that and get started in the 2000 era.

"Oh my gosh, it's going to be so fun," Smith said. "If I can get the ball to these guys, which is my best passes, the 15 to 20-yarders, get it into their hands and let them turn it up field."

Strap in, because it looks like it's going to be an interesting, unpredictable ride for Smith and his youthful band of receivers who are under the gun with Pro Bowl running back Corey Dillon digging in for a 10-game holdout. If going by the last two days is any indication, it could be a King's Island wild ride:

Carl Pickens, who turned over every stone to get the Bengals to release him the last two years, was so close to reporting today that Thursday at 2 p.m. he called receivers coach Steve Mooshagian to check what time he had to be here today. Two hours later, he was cut.

Then a couple of hours after that on Thursday, Darnay Scott, about to become king of the receivers after being Pickens'crown prince for six years, reportedly found himself in jail after being charged with passing a bad check. He made it in time this morning for check-in.

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Warrick arrived after the Bengals talked him into reporting on time earlier in the week. He's three days shy of completing his 30-day community service in Tallahassee, Fla., stemming from last fall's petty theft charge and he wanted to complete it before he came to camp. Then when he got here, the 5-foot-11, will-of-a-wisp wideout turned out to be the only overweight Bengal at 201 pounds.

"I'm supposed to be 196," Warrick said, "and that may happen by tonight." Tonight is a big night in the life of the franchise. It's the first night Smith takes control of the offense, Scott assumes the No. 1 receiver job for good, and Warrick puts his speed up against linebackers who can run nearly as fast as him.

Of the 10 receivers in camp, Scott and James Hundon are the only who have more than one year's experience in the league. He had no comment about his arrest, but he was vocal in his belief that he hoped to keep playing with Pickens.

"I was a little upset," said Scott when he heard of Pickens' release. "I'm going to be a man about it and I'm sure he's a man about it. Now I have big shoes to fill. I have to step up my game."

The happy-go-lucky Scott, just two weeks removed from his 28th birthday, is serious about his hands. He gets interested when told if he averages 67 catches per season over the last years of his contract, he'll pass Pickens as the Bengals' all-time receiver.

"Easy," Scott said. "It should be easy. I can catch a whole bunch of hitches if they want me to. I can move myself up and down and get up the field. I have older brothers. You're always waiting for your turn to shine. In college it was always Marshall (Faulk) and Darnay. Here, it was always Pickens and Darnay. I don't mind that."

There is some concern here about Warrick's youth. The club was perplexed when he didn't finish his community service in three months after they made him the fourth pick in the draft and nearly two months after they tied virtually half his bonus to completing the 30 days.

"It wasn't like he didn't try and finish," Mooshagian said. "There were a couple of times he reported to work and his name wasn't on the list. But he can be easily distracted. The main thing is he has to keep his focus. We told him we felt it was important for him to be here from the first day and he responded. He's been pleasant, anxious, ready to go. He's a great talent."

The Bengals credited Warrick for deciding to report on time and he didn't make any excuses. He knows if he doesn't finish by Sept. 30, he could go to jail. He plans to wrap it up during the Bengals' bye week of Sept. 3-10.

"After the season in January, I was getting ready for the draft," Warrick said. "Then it got busy after the draft. I really wanted to finish it before I came because I don't want to back to Tallahassee to have to finish it. But I'll do it like a man. The main thing is to get it done and that's what I'm going to do. Get it done."

Which is pretty much Warrick's game on the field. It's no secret what he can do best. Just getting it done by running away from people. One of the questions is if he can get off the line of scrimmage against NFL sized players.

"Coming from Florida State, that's what we did all our life," Warrick said. "Bump and run coverage 24, 7 every day in practice. That's what made me a great receiver...You can't go out there trying to do too much. That's when bad things happen. You've got to be patient. You know you're going to be hungry, but you still have to be patient and not try to do too much."

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