Henry eyes Friday

8-7-01, 8:40 p.m.

Updated: 8-8-01, 12:05 a.m.

BY GEOFF HOBSON

GEORGETOWN, Ky. _

Defensive end Kevin Henry thinks he can take some snaps Friday against the Lions after practicing for the first time Tuesday.

Henry, 32, the nine-year free agent from the Steelers, practiced with a heavily wrapped elbow three weeks after he had bone chips removed via arthroscopic surgery. He knows he starts out behind in what looks to be a joust with veterans Glen Steele, Jevon Langford and Reinard Wilson for the eighth and final spot on the line.

"I've got time. I don't think they're going to cut me tomorrow," Henry said. "I know those guys aren't going

to lay down and let me have the job."

With starting left end Vaughn Booker resting his knees Tuesday, Henry was surprised he got half the plays in the team snaps.

"But that's good," Henry said. "I felt pretty good, but I'm a little rusty. That's to be expected. It's the first time in nearly a year I've had the pads on.

"My footwork was a little off," Henry said. "My timing was a little off. I think my hand placement was good, but your hands and your feet have to be coordinated."

Head coach Dick LeBeau is hoping this Henry is the same old pro that played for him in Pittsburgh. He's even hoping he's just the Henry from last year. That's when he missed all preseason after arthroscopic knee surgery and then had to be an emergency starter at the new position of nose tackle in the regular-season opener against Baltimore He responded by playing 58 snaps and recording a career-high nine tackles.

"I'll play anywhere they want me, but I think I'll be more effective at end," Henry said.

Talk about a crowd. Bernard Whittington has looked good at end backing up Booker and John Copeland has been solid on the right side, which is where No. 1 pick Justin Smith is headed when he signs.

By the way, there was no reported progress Tuesday on the Smith negotiations.

INJURY UPDATE: OLB Takeo Spikes (ankle) was downgraded to questionable for Friday's game in Detroit, but he thinks he'll make the trip. . .TE Sean Brewer (hamstring), TE Marco Battaglia (knee), FB Nick Williams (knee) and T Freddie Moore (knee) are out. . .

RT Willie Anderson jammed his foot and was hobbled after practice, but he'll probably be able to go in the game.

DOUGHTY RETURN 'SLIM': Bengals left tackle Mike Doughty said Tuesday night the chances of him returning to the club are slim.

Even though the Bengals have Federal Expressed Doughty a letter that gives him five days to return to training camp or else he'll be done for the rest of the year and ineligible to play for another team.

Doughty, who left here Monday after the Bengals refused to release him, said he has lost his "competitive desire," in trying to impress a team he feels has no future for him.

"I definitely want to play again, but it seems like no matter how well I play I end up getting cut," said Doughty,

who missed his first pre-season game Saturday since signing with the Bengals before the 1998 season.

"I don't know why I didn't play, but I don't understand it," Doughty said. "I've graded out flawlessly in some pre-season games and yet I've been cut, so it's frustrating. It seems like what ever I do isn't good enough."

On Tuesday, the club insisted on its right to keep Doughty's rights even though it appears their four tackles on the final 53-man roster are already set in starters Richmond Webb and Willie Anderson and backups Jamain Stephens and John Jackson.

"You have to worry about yourself. You can't worry about supplying other teams with your guy," said Jim Lippincott, director or pro/college personnel. "You've trained that guy. We've invested three years in that guy and we wanted him to come back here or if he's not, then he sits out."

Frank Murtha, Doughty's Chicago-based agent, went over the consequences of a walkout with his client Monday night.

"Except as injury protection, we don't think they have Mike in their plans," Murtha said. "I was hopeful they would release him now so he could hook on with another team. He walked out of camp knowing the consequences. He doesn't want his spot to hinge on one of his teammates getting seriously hurt."

Doughty, 26, a free agent out of Notre Dame, has shuttled between the practice squad and roster since he signed with the team in 1998, but has yet to play in a regular-season game.

Lippincott was stunned Doughty left and left Lippincott citing one of his favorite lines: The key to survival is to never eliminate yourself.

"If he had been waived (after playing in the last few preseason games) he'd been on tape for other (teams) to see," Lippincott said. "If he stayed and someone got hurt, he would have made it. I don't agree with a lot of things he did. But he's an adult and made the choice."

Jackson played the second half and overtime backing up Webb. That surprised Doughty, who had been told he'd play. That's why when he was told Monday he would play on Friday in Detroit, he wasn't so sure.

"Believe me, I just didn't decide to do it now," Doughty said. "I'd been thinking about it for a long time. I want to play, but I just see myself pounding my head against a wall and getting cut again no matter how well I do."

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