BY GEOFF HOBSON - GEORGETOWN, Ky.
After a relatively injury-free first week of camp, the bumps and bruises began to hit some key people during tonight's workout here at Georgetown College that featured the first sustained full speed series of plays:
Quarterback Akili Smith sat out the last half of practice when he bruised his right forearm on a shoulder pad. The arm got stiff after a few throws, but trainer Paul Sparling said he's probable for Saturday's intrasquad scrimmage.
Defensive end John Copeland sat out the practice and won't play Saturday as his recovery from late April's arthroscopic surgery on his ankle continues to be stop-and-go. Trainer Paul Sparling has been assured by the doctor who removed bone chips that the swelling can be traced to the heightened activity of training camp.
"From what Paul tells me, I'm just doing more on it than a person who doesn't play football," Copeland said. "It's go and then rest it. Go and then rest it. That's part of the deal. I'll go tomorrow and then come back and be ready Monday."
Wide receiver Darnay Scott is doubtful for Saturday as he sat out his second straight practice with Achilles tendinitis, but he should be ready Monday after resting it the weekend. Sunday is the players' first day off since camp opened July 21.
Outside linebacker Takeo Spikes is questionable after straining his right shoulder tonight.
Nose tackle Oliver Gibson went down with a left knee sprain during practice and is questionable for the scrimmage.
Tendinitis in right tackle Willie Anderson's left knee and left ankle flared again, but he's probable for Saturday.
Backup left tackle John Jackson got poked in the eye, but is probable.
* BENGALS KNOW PICKENS COMING:*The Bengals took note of Tennessee's signing of former teammate Carl Pickens, the club's all-time receiver who became best known for controversy rather than catching. They know Pickens will be ready when he returns with the Titans for an Oct. 8 game at Paul Brown Stadium, his first contact with the club since he ripped team president Mike Brown's decision to retain coach Bruce Coslet.
"I'm sure when he plays us, he's going to want to make a point," Copeland said. "I just think he wanted out and it was the best thing for everybody. Especially with the young receivers we have. We've got talent. That's not the issue. He's a hell of a receiver, but we've got talented receivers. We just have to put it together."
They know they'll have to play him twice (also Dec. 10 in Nashville) and as Scott, his running mate at wideout for six years, said, "I hope he doesn't have a big game, because for him that means 10 catches for 200 yards. It's going to be funny seeing him twice this year on the other side."
Cornerback Artrell Hawkins considers him a friend, but he admits, "It would have been better if he went out west. I know he'll have it out for us. He'll want to do well against us. I think it will be fun, good competition. He's a good receiver, but there's a lot of good receivers in the conference and that's how I'll approach him."
Hawkins is going to hold off on deciding if Pickens' departure will make the Bengals a better team.
"Pick wasn't really concerned about what everybody thought about him. He pretty much did his own thing and that's fine," Hawkins said. "I'll tell you if it's a better team in October. His talent was superb. As far as the distractions that were caused by anything he would say or what he wanted to do and if it affected us or didn't affect us, we have to wait and see. Because I don't think we have anybody who would say that or do things like that this year."
How the mighty have fallen. Pickens gets $1.5 million this year ($500,000 to sign) instead of $3 million from the Bengals. He could get a $4.5 million roster bonus in March, but he would probably have to ring up near Pro Bowl numbers to get it.
YES SIRR:The only guy more awed by Sirr Parker's move from wide receiver/running back to cornerback is secondary coach Ray Horton. The Bengals plucked Parker, the former Texas A&M speedster, off waivers Wednesday and decided to move him because of a 40-yard dash time once clocked at 4.25 seconds.
Parker, who last played corner as a junior at Locke High School in Los Angeles, summed up the hardest thing about the move in one sentence: "Trying to stick the person I used to be."
The 5-foot-11, 195-pound Parker figures it won't help that he has the mind of a receiver.
"I always thought corner was the hardest position," he said. "He's left alone on an island and this is the highest point of competition and it's a major transition."
Horton said the Bengals will go slow with Parker and walk him through the position, getting him out early and keeping him late at practice. But Parker's spot on the roster will probably be determined by his work on special teams. Parker is convinced he can return kicks.
"We know he can run and catch," Horton said. "Now we have to see if he can run backwards. It sounds easy, but it's not. If he can help you on special teams, then you can give him time to do it. But if he can't do it on special teams, which is basically athletic movements, then I don't think he can play for me. But I don't know the kid. We'll keep our eyes open."
* MACK UPDATE:*Tremain Mack's agent, David Levine, visited practice tonight and expects his client to return Thursday from a class in Tyler, Texas that relates to his alcohol-related arrests. Levine said Mack has one more session July 31, and is hoping the Bengals don't give him the maximum fine of $5,000 for missing a day of training camp. The Bengals are leaning that way because they feel Mack could have taken care of the class during the offseason, but Levine said there were paperwork problems. Levine hopes he can work out a number because he also wants to get started on a contract extension for the Pro Bowl kick returner.
The Bengals could call their pass defense package, "The Levine Nickel.'' His clients on the Bengals could all be on the field on third down with Mack as an extra defensive back, Rodney Heath as the third cornerback, Reinard Wilson at rush end, and regulars Oliver Gibson at nose tackle and Darryl Williams at free safety.
* THIS AND THAT:*Lawyer Phil Taliaferro met with wide receiver Darnay Scott on the sidelines tonight to discuss his client's arrest on passing a bad check to a Northern Kentucky motorcycle shop. Taliaferro had no comment, but he's probably dealing with an Aug. 4 court date that coincides with the Bengals preseason opener in Buffalo. . .Peter Warrick's high school coach, Paul Maechle, stopped by practice tonight on his way back to Bradenton, Fla., from Wisconsin. Maechle says he's got another blue chipper at Southeast High School in quarterback Adrian McPherson, the No. 1 recruit in the state.