Updated: 10-11-06, 3:45 a.m.
When 5-11, 200-pound Leon Hall caught a glimpse of Ty Law at a Michigan alumni deal a few years ago, he was surprised at how big he was.
It turns out Law is also 5-11, 200. So maybe Hall grew, or maybe he just became more comfortable with the physical side of the game. In an up-and-down rookie year in coverage, Hall's tackling has been as advertised as a staple of his game.
And it will really have to be on display Sunday in front of Law and his Chiefs because it looks like the Bengals are going to go into the game with just four linebackers again and one of them, second-year man Corey Mays, arrived on waivers nine days ago.
Rashad Jeanty (shin) is out for the fifth straight week. Ahmad Brooks (groin) says he's out for virtually the third straight week. Caleb Miller (back) didn't practice.
The Bengals have to go with just four because they've got no room to cut anybody. The fact they don't even have 45 healthy or eligible players to dress Sunday means they can toy with adding Josh Huston as a kickoff man.
It also means that Hall is going to have to bring it in run support because the Bengals expect the Chiefs to run Larry Johnson all day. The usually powerful Kansas City running game has been dormant as well as rare this year. Johnson, who set an NFL record with 416 carries last season, is only averaging 17 per game this season with a brutal 3.3 yards per carry.
"If you get behind, that that hinders you some and sometimes coordinators get a little frustrated," said Chiefs head coach Herman Edwards. "You get some negative yards rushing and you just figure I can throw a pass and get five or 10 yards. And then all of a sudden you're passing to get yards and you forget about it. And before you know it you're passing it three times and running it once and you go, 'Can't live with that.' That can happen to you, too."
So with the Bengals giving up 5.3 yards per carry, and the Patriots taking control of the game with a power running attack when two backers went down, watch Larry run.
Law, who has watched Hall play on TV, can't remember talking to Hall briefly at the alumni gig. But he thinks he's ready for the scrum.
"He's physical and that's what you have to be playing in the Big Ten because that's a power football game," Law said. "You have some athletes, don't get me wrong, but you've got to run the ball in the Big Ten. Its power, play-action, stuff like that. He's well prepared."
In order to compensate for the loss at backer, the Bengals moved left end Robert Geathers and rookie safety Chinedum Ndukwe to various hybrid positions against New England. The 265-pound Geathers said it was the first time he ever played backer and he likes the flexibility it offers because instead of pass rushing against 350-pound tackles he can get matchups on running backs and tight ends.
SLANTS AND SCREENS
The Bengals see two of their all-time greats coaching on the other sideline in the next three weeks. Sunday it is former Pro Bowl nose tackle and defensive line coach Tim Krumrie doing the same job for the Chiefs and in 17 days at Paul Brown Stadium the unthinkable happens when Ken Anderson returns as the Steelers quarterbacks coach.
Asked if he thought Krumrie was nuts because of his legendary toughness and intensity, Edwards, a former NFL defensive back said, "Generally if you're a defensive player, and I can say that because I was a defensive player, there is a little screw missing somewhere. He's such a workaholic and players really enjoy playing for him. He's going to get every ounce of what they have in them. The great thing abut Tim Krumrie is he probably wasn't the most talented guy, but he played beyond his ability and he's never going to let guys with great talent underachieve and I think that's what all good coaches do; they don't allow players to underachieve."
Edwards said Wednesday that quarterback Damon Huard practiced after leaving Sunday's Jacksonville loss with a shoulder injury and is expected to play.
The Bengals plucked safety John Busing off the practice squad before Wednesday's practice to replace the suspended Johnathan Joseph on the 53-man roster and that may indicate a few things.
It suggests that Ethan Kilmer, sidelined all of the regular season with a knee injury, is still doubtful for Sunday in Kansas City. And it turns out he was iced for the week again, and it could be longer.
" Ethan is suffering from an (knee) injury I don't think that anybody knew much about, and it's been an odd thing, and so they continue to treat him," Lewis said. "He gets a little better, and then he gets not as good. We've been a little patient with it, and at some point we'll make that decision if we feel that spot is warranted by somebody. It's not like there's a plethora of guys out there that warrant the spot, because somebody's going to be inactive anyway."
It also means safety Madieu Williams could get some work at corner. It certainly bolsters the Bengals special teams, where Busing had six tackles last season in seven games.
The Bengals also signed a familiar face to the practice squad to replace Busing in former Ohio State kicker Josh Huston. He was 3-for-4 on field goals in the preseason, including a 50-yarder, before the Giants waived him on Cutdown Day.
With the Bengals having the second fewest touchbacks in the NFL with two and yielding the NFL's worst field position following kickoffs at 33.7, Huston may be an option this week in Kansas City. The Joseph suspension gives the Bengals an extra spot with which to play, and they don't have 45 healthy or eligible players.
Before Wednesday's practice it looked like the Bengals were still struggling to get healthy. Running back Rudi Johnson and wide receiver Tab Perry didn't work. Running back Chris Perry, scheduled to return to practice next week, look poised to work with the strength staff on the side.
Also not working was defensive tackle Jon Fanene. Backup center Alex Stepanovich did return to work.