12-5-01, 7:05 p.m.
12-6-01, 3:20 a.m. Updated:
12-6-01, 11:15 a.m.
BY GEOFF HOBSON
Bengals quarterback Jon Kitna laid it on the line Wednesday when he questioned the professionalism of some on his unit and veteran offensive performers such as running back Corey Dillon and fullback Lorenzo Neal agreed that the ship must be tightened.
"We can all get better as a group. Me. Everybody," said Dillon, whose fumble led to Tampa Bay's win in overtime Sunday. "We've got to go out and execute better. We can't wait until Week 11 or Week 12 to determine we really have to bite down. We should have been doing that a long time ago. It should have been like that since Week 1."
Kitna, who hinted a few weeks ago that not enough people were sick of losing, got a little more vocal at his weekly press conference Wednesday.
"The things that you did wrong in Week 1, need to be eliminated," Kitna said. ""You need to get rid of that stuff. That stuff needs to be far gone for you to win games at this time of the year.
"We are somehow compiling six to eight to ten of these mistakes that are unforced errors every week," Kitna said "I'm talking about the mental errors, the things that happen before the snap, getting lined up, knowing where you're going as a quarterback on a certain play, knowing your reads. I include myself in that. There are a lot of mistakes that
get made. A lot of times you can grade out really well and still not do a lot to help the team win. Those are the things I'm talking about. There can be a mentality when things start to go wrong where, 'I'm not going to be the one to get blamed.'"
Neal, the nine-year veteran off two 13-3 runs in Tennessee, said he backs Kitna.
"It's very frustrating as a veteran player when you see a guy who has so much heart to want to win. Kitna wants to win. He doesn't want to lose," Neal said. "We've got to help him get it done better. Particularly on offense. Until we're willing to say, 'We're going to get it right. We're going to have it down cold,' we'll continue to make the mistakes."
DILLON PHILOSOPHY: Bengals President Mike Brown didn't see anything special about how hard Pro Bowl running back Corey Dillon ran in the first practice since The Fumble Sunday.
"Corey always runs hard," Brown said. "No matter when it is. Game or practice. I hope he's not down on himself because he's really been quite good for us because he runs so hard like that."
Dillon vowed after the game that when Wednesday rolled around, the fumble would only be in the archives and not his mind.
"I went home and thought about it for two days and I know I'm not perfect," Dillon said. "I hope that situation comes up again and I hope I'm right back in it. I'm sure I'm not the only guy. I'm sure every great quarterback has had a play where he overthrew a guy in the end zone. I know in my heart I'm a lot more good than bad. If I had a million dollars for every bad play I've done, I'd still be broke."
ST. LOUIS OUT FOR SEASON: The Bengals suffered their fourth season-ending injury at tight end this season when a MRI showed long-snapper Brad St. Louis suffered a torn left groin muscle Wednesday. Rookie tight end Sean Brewer also suffered a groin injury in training camp that sidelined him for the season. With Tony McGee (knee) and Marco Battaglia (appendectomy) also out, the Bengals have yet to decide if they'll pursue another tight end or activate long snapper Randy Chevrier from the practice squad.
Backup wide receiver Danny Farmer, one of three players to leave Wednesday's workout, was upgraded Thursday to questionable for Sunday's game against Jacksonville. Farmer sprained his right ankle after stepping on running back Curtis Keaton's foot downfield. Starting strong safety JoJuan Armour sprained his left ankle and is listed as probable.
St. Louis, the team's long snapper as well as its most experienced tight end, aggravated his left groin during individual drills. St. Louis, who has snapped in every game on punts and field goals since he arrived in 2000, would most likely be replaced by tight end Kirk
McMullen, signed from the practice squad after McGee's knee injury. That is, if they get another tight end. The Bengals probably won't go with outside linebacker Steve Foley or rookie defensive end Justin Smith, their other backup snappers.
Chevrier, signed to the practice squad Tuesday, was taken in the seventh round by Jacksonville in the last draft. He got picked up by the Cowboys after the Jags cut him. Dallas followed suit after he snapped in eight games. The last one came Nov. 11 against Atlanta, when his high snap led to a season-ending ankle injury to kicker Tim Seder. The 6-2, 290-pound Chevrier, a defensive tackle out of McGill of Quebec in Canada, also had a wayward snap against the Eagles that led to a blocked punt.
Cornerback Artrell Hawkins (ankle) looks like he'll miss his second straight game, but left guard Matt O'Dwyer (knee) thinks he'll be back. When last week's rain drove the team on turf for two days, his sprained MCL flared. There's a lot of reasons why the Bengals haven't been able to run the ball since the bye week and have gone from 6th to 19th in league rushing. One of them is O'Dwyer's injury early in the first Jacksonville game, the first game of the four-game losing streak.
Wednesday in Jacksonville, Jags quarterback Mark Brunell (quad) and wide receiver Keenan McCardell (groin) rode the bike instead of practiced. McCardell is probable and though Brunell is listed as questionable, he indicated during Wednesday's conference call with the Cincinnati media that his quad strain is no worse than it has been most of the season.
Tight end Kyle Brady (ankle) also didn't practice and is questionable. Neither did linebacker Kevin Hardy (knee), who hasn't played in two weeks. Running back Fred Taylor (groin also isn't expected back.