Kaes-ing a new spot

5-24-02, 7:15 p.m.

BY GEOFF HOBSON

May is the NFL's month of machinations. Which is why in Bengaldom linebacker Chris Edmonds is currently playing tight end, wide receiver Danny Farmer has lined up in more places than Matt Lauer, and for the past two days cornerback Kevin Kaesviharn has slid into the middle of the field to play free safety for a handful of snaps.

Which shouldn't scare starter Cory Hall or Mark Roman, the cornerback who has made the move to free safety for the entire month. And it shouldn't disrupt second-round pick Lamont Thompson, the erstwhile starter who is sitting out this month because of a dispute with the Bengals over injury protection.

But it does show what the Bengals think of the 6-1, 190-pound Kaesviharn, the guy who began the last fall semester teaching high school gym and ended it with three NFL interceptions.

"With his ball skills and

instincts, it's certainly worth taking a look at him there," said cornerbacks coach Kevin Coyle. "Now's the time we can evaluate him a little bit at safety. We've got time in the spring that we don't have in the fall. It's an experiment in that sense."

Even though the Bengals most likely won't get a chance to evaluate Thompson on the field until training camp, they are delighted he decided to come in this week and start working on the playbook. He has been arriving at 7 a.m. and leaving with the other rookies at 4 p.m. after two-hour meetings with the secondary coaches and other rookies. He plans to spend part of Memorial Day Xing and Oing with Coyle.

As Kaesviharn, who has also taught math, has discovered in his short stint at free safety, the position is fraught with mind gymnastics.

"You're the quarterback of the defense," Kaesviharn said. "I can pretty much understand when we draw it up on the board, but then when we get on the field and the tempo is up, it's a tough adjustment because everything is moving."

Kaesviharn, who has 29 pro interceptions in three leagues since 1999, likes one concept of the spot.

"You can run back there and do some ballhawking and I like that," said Kaesviharn, who admits he is currently a cornerback at heart.

Coyle is pleased with what Thompson has grasped in his first three days and thinks he's pretty well grounded from his three full seasons as a starter at Washington State.

"What we do is extremely more involved that what he did there, but there are similarities," Coyle said. "There are some coverages that are similar that he can relate to and there is some carryover. He understands fire zones and the quarters concepts in the way we break up the field and he 's familiar with the concept of our two-deep coverages. He's picking it up better as the week goes on, and he'll have all next week and a lot of June."

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MORE LAMONT:** Bengals president Mike Brown has said that the club will protect rookie free safety Lamont Thompson with a contract in his slot in the second round if he gets hurt in the voluntary practices, but he won't put it in writing. Yet Mike Sullivan, Thompson's agent, said the club hasn't made that oral guarantee to him about protecting Thompson in the slot. Thompson is seeking the same written guarantee the Bengals gave first-rounder Levi Jones.

Meanwhile, Thompson jogged for a few minutes after practice Friday, but he continued not to participate in any drills and probably won't after viewing cornerback Artrell Hawkins tear the posterior cruciate ligament in his knee during Wednesday's drills when he dove to knock away a pass."

"I came in with my frame of mind that I would be real limited in what I would do as far as participation," Thompson said. "Just to see that . . .I think right now that's the best approach. In the game of football, injuries occur as simple as what happened to him. He broke on the ball, made a play on the ball, and just kind of hit his knee. It's a simple thing that happened."

DIVES AND SWEEPS: Receivers coach Steve Mooshagian thinks Danny Farmer may be the team's most improved player and it's because of this past offseason's exhaustive work-out regimen. So Mooshagian wasn't too surprised when Farmer left practice early Friday after pulling a hamstring. That's going to keep him quiet for a few weeks, but trainer Paul Sparling says he'll be fine for training camp.

"He's probably just worn out a little bit," Mooshagian said. "He's been coming in here seven days a week to work out and we've been running so many three- and four-wides that it always seems like he's been on the field." Plus, the receiving corps missed three players Friday with Darnay Scott, Peter Warrick, and Ron Dugan attending to personal business. . .

First-round pick Levi Jones is already halfway through his first season. Mentally, that is. Offensive line coach Paul Alexander is taking

all the rookie linemen through last season on film. They go through the game planning leading up that week's game, watch the tape, and go through the in-game adjustments and then go through the post-game critique.

And there is no rest for the rookies. Games 9-11 are being played this Saturday, Sunday and Monday. Alexander would like to end the season when the voluntary practices end May 31. But if not, Jones can get them in when he reports to Alexander in July for more film work.

"I told this group of rookies," Alexander said, "that they're getting the benefits of coming in with a first-rounder. . ."

Molly Anderson, the 19-yerar-old daughter of Bengals quarterbacks coach Ken Anderson , was in fair condition Friday with several broken bones after the car she was driving collided with a tractor-trailer truck on Interstate 75 in Boone County, Ky., . . .

The Bengals not only got a cornerback in March when they signed Jeff Burris, but also their representative to the NFL Players Association. Burris replaced Ken Dilger late last season in Indianapolis and now he takes the spot of former Notre Dame teammate Tom Carter in Cincinnati. Burris, who is staying with the Carters in Cincinnati while attending this month's voluntary workouts, is recruiting quarterback Gus Frerotte and running back Corey Dillon to help him. . .

LEBEAU SATISFIED: Bengals head coach Dick LeBeau said Friday that Takeo Spikes had every right as a team captain to rip the teammates who haven't shown up for all the club's voluntary workouts in a story in last week's "Cincinnati Enquirer."

But with four of the 14 dates left (May 28-31), LeBeau said he

is pleased with the attendance. With the players staring at a three-day weekend, numbers were down Friday but LeBeau thinks next week's session will be heavily attended.

"Like last year, we had most of the guys here and the guys who aren't here have had legitimate reasons," LeBeau said. "I think (attendance) has been a little better than last year and we've got another week left. This is a voluntary thing and you have to understand that there are other obligations people might have to meet."

The club has talked to wide receiver Darnay Scott and has been told he's dealing with personal business in St. Louis. LeBeau has been in touch with starting defensive tackles Oliver Gibson and Tony Williams, who weren't here this week, and he expects them next week. Receivers Peter Warrick and Ron Dugans also had personal business, with Warrick attending his daughter's kindergarten graduation.

Burris doesn't see too much difference from the attendance here and with the Colts the past few seasons.

"I would say about 95 to 98 percent both places. The big thing here is we've got the big guns," said Burris, referring to running back Corey Dillon and linebackers Takeo Spikes and Brian Simmons. "When you've got a guy like Corey here, that says something to the younger guys." . . .

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