Long camp good for long run

8-23-01, 4:30 p.m.

This is the final installment of defensive captain and linebacker Takeo Spikes' diary for Bengals.com during training camp.

GEORGETOWN, Ky. _ We break camp tomorrow and I'm ready for it. I'm about as healthy as I've ever been down here. I've still got a little bit of a sore ankle, but it's only a mild sprain.

Guys were griping because we had the bye weekend last week, but we still had to come back down here for this week of practice instead of just staying up in Cincinnati after coming back from the weekend.

I understand the griping because that's the nature of things. Teams that went to camp after we did are already out and we're still here.

That's tough, but when you really sit down and look at it, do you think we should get out a week earlier?

If we think about it, we really needed this week here. We needed it here. If we stayed up there, guys are running around looking for places to live and moving in and not thinking about Saturday's game. This way it's perfect. You can worry about that stuff after the game.

But I think we should get motivated by things like the schedule. Not coming from Dick LeBeau, but from the league itself.

A bye week in the preseason? Come on. You may say the computer picks the schedule, but I don't think think so.

I think we always get the damn raw deal. I truly think

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if you are pretty much the doormat of the league, you have to take what's handed down to you. You always get seconds. You don't have any leverage unless you win and that's as good as any reason to want it.

Everybody wants to be associated with a winner. Everybody.

That's what I would do if I was in charge. You have to give the fans what they want to see. That's the whole mindset I'd like to see. Use that as motivation to win. To turn it around.

I want to be on national TV Monday night. We haven't played on Monday night since I've been here. No prime time or anything like that. Go down our schedule and see when we play. 1 p.m. 1 p.m. 1 p.m. all the way down.

We're fighting our way out of a hole. We're hungry.

I know we didn't look very good Monday after the off weekend, but it's not like last year when we had the bye the first week of the regular season. This year, we came back to training camp.

When you have days off, it's not the same way when you left right away. There are distractions. I don't care if you're the Super Bowl champions.

The big thing was responding to it Tuesday. Knowing we didn't have the type of day we needed to have to be a successful organization. I think we did that Tuesday.

I'm not saying we were 100 percent on everything. But the tempo, keeping our poise on the snap count, overall I think we had a winning day and that was important because it showed we knew what we had to do after not being sharp the day before.

I like hanging with the guys at camp, going to eat with them, and the convenience of this place. You can get your treatment and then just walk to dinner. And the thing that is always the constant here is the desserts. I always miss those.

But I'm looking forward to having my freedom back. It's the little things you take for granted. Like going back to your own house (not a dorm) and kicking back and just flipping through the TV channels.

Is this year going to be different?

The old saying is it isn't a coach's team until you take them to training camp. Now Coach LeBeau has and I think he's instilled some things in us that weren't there last year.

But I never know until the games start. I could sit here and write a book and say, "Yeah, we're going to be better because of this position and that position and because of the way we're responding to certain things. . ."

But when you get down to it, the only things that matter are Ws and Ls.

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