Kitna goes up top

12-15-02, 9:45 p.m.

BY GEOFF HOBSON

It was really the only way the week could end.

During a week the two backup quarterbacks had angry words for the organization, the starter ended the week by sending a few salvos up those golden stairs following the 29-15 loss to the Jaguars Sunday at deserted Paul Brown Stadium.

There is also some evidence in the form of a CBS report Sunday that the NFL is monitoring Bengals President Mike Brown and the possible changes to his front office during the offseason.

Jon Kitna indicated that Brown and management have to adjust its attitude if the Bengals are to get off a skid that is now one loss away from being the worst season in the history of the Bengals. Asked if there was a problem with attitude at the top, Kitna said, "As an organization, we don't expect to win. If you don't expect to win, you're not going to win very often. Until you expect to win and do the things that are necessary to win, until you give your players reason for optimism, you're going to have a tough time."

After the offense's least productive game in two months (300 total yards), Kitna displayed the frustration of a team that is now all

but certain to have the worst record in the NFL and No. 1 pick. With two games left, only the 3-11 Lions have a shot at robbing the 1-13 Bengals. "It's hard. I'm not saying you have to expect to win because you're 1-13," Kitna said. "But you can't think you have to play the perfect game to win a football game because it isn't going to happen. We're not playing teams that are that great, to be honest. We have to go out and know that if you do the majority of things right, good things are going to happen for you. And if you don't beat yourself.

"That's why you need guys like Lorenzo Neal, Richmond Webb and Tony Williams — guys that have been around winning and understand what it takes to win," Kitna said. "Those are the types of guys you need to lift up into leadership positions. You need to get enough of those guys around, along with the young guys we have, and build something on that. But it all starts from the top down really — attitude."

Kitna hasn't backed down from taking on the front office, even during his precarious bid to earn $1.65 million next year if he takes 80 percent of the team's snaps this year. After Sunday's game, Kitna has been in on 706 plays and is on pace for 837 if he takes the rest of the Bengals projected snaps, which is 1,049. That computes to 79.79.

When the Bengals activated quarterback Joe Germaine from the practice squad to the active roster this week, No. 2 quarterback Gus Frerotte and No. 3 quarterback Akili Smith lit into the decision. Smith, who says he wants out, predicted they would play Germaine to deny Kitna the incentive. Frerotte, who is on his way out, questioned the move because they are thin at other positions, such as wide receiver, and didn't need a fourth active quarterback.

On Sunday, cornerback Artrell Hawkins, who was tender all week with a thigh injury, didn't dress and rookie cornerback LaVar Glover couldn't play after the second quarter with a hamstring injury.

"The NFL Today," and CBS SportsLine.com reported Sunday that Brown has talked to several people in the league regarding a restructuring of the team's power, including general manager prospects. Among those Brown has talked to is members of the NFL front office, players association boss Gene Upshaw and several other executives within the league.

Brown called the report "inaccurate," and said it was the first he had heard of it. But CBS has a close relationship with the NFL and there was speculation from some press boxes around the NFL that maybe the league was either sending Brown a feeler or a message.

Kitna certainly sent Brown a message about next season.

"Building around the things that are positive things for your team, whatever that may be. That's what their job is to do," Kitna said. "That's what needs to be done. You have to take advantage. In this day of free agency, guys don't stick around very long. The young talent we have at receiver, two more years that young talent is going to start to go places. The young talent we got this year in the draft that I think is pretty good, it doesn't take long for that talent to turn over and then it's gone. You can't start over and over every time."

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