Jackson OK; Westbrook needs surgery

7-28-02, 11:35 p.m.

Updated: 7-29-02, 3:30 p.m.

BY GEOFF HOBSON

GEORGETOWN, Ky. _ The Bengals got some good news and not so good news from the doctor Monday:

The bad news is wide receiver Michael Westbrook needs surgery on his broken left wrist and is expected to miss all the pre-season games.

The good news is that left tackle John Jackson's heart passed muster in Monday's angiogram and he's expected back at training camp Monday night to begin some light aerobic work in preparation for his return in two weeks.

There was some hope Westbrook could avoid the surgery on his navicular bone, but Dr. Peter Stern made the recommendation to operate and he'll undergo the procedure Tuesday morning at University Hospital.

Bengals trainer Paul Sparling said Westbrook could still be ready in time for the Sept. 8 regular-season opener against the Chargers, which is five weeks away.

"Every broken bone is different," Sparling said. ""Dr. Stern thought it was the best way to go and Michael agreed."

A stress test over the weekend revealed some abnormalities in the 37-year-old Jackson's heart, but Sparling said the angiogram showed his heart is operating normally.

"We'll be more aggressive with the treadmill and bike and other aerobics next week," Sparling said.

The Bengals' euphoric ride into training camp literally came to a crunching halt Sunday when Westbrook, their new big-play receiver, broke his left wrist late in practice.

Westbrook, who kept practicing after he fell on it, discovered late Sunday night that he had broken the navicular bone.

Until he's ready, the Bengals plan to replace their most experienced receiver at the X position with a combination of two second-year players in Chad Johnson and T.J. Houshmandzadeh. Another X receiver, Danny Farmer, isn't expected back from a hamstring injury until the third pre-season game.

Westbrook broke the navicular in his right wrist during his career year in 1999 with the Redskins when he fractured the bone during a game against the Eagles. He kept playing, finished the game with 152 yards, and played the next week with a cast.

"He told me they tried to put a screw in there and there was no way he was going to let them do it," Mooshagian said. "He told me he's got a tremendous pain threshold and he told me he's going to be back playing. I believe him. He's a tough guy."

Westbrook, 30, signed a three-year, $4.5 million deal on July 2 and

is designated to replace Darnay Scott in the starting lineup in a bid to beef up one of the league's punchless big-play offenses.

Westbrook had his best day of the three practices Sunday, when he made some diving catches. But it was also a big day for Houshmandzadeh.

"T.J. has become a guy like Farmer," Mooshagian said. "He's becoming very reliable and he's looked excellent down here. It's a shame because today you could tell that Michael was just coming around and getting used to it. The one thing it will do is give more reps to T.J. and Chad."

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