6-23-03, 6:15 p.m.
6-25-03, 2 p.m. Updated:
6-25-03, 5 p.m.
BY GEOFF HOBSON
Austin E. "Dutch," Knowlton, one of the Bengals' major shareholders and an original owner of the 1968 American Football League expansion team, died Wednesday morning of natural causes in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
Knowlton, 93, a former chairman of the Bengals' board of directors, also owned a large portion of the Cincinnati Reds during their Big Red Machine Days in the 1970s.
"He was a significant owner of the Bengals and a man who was involved in several key decisions from the inception of the franchise," said president Mike Brown, who remains the club's majority owner.
Knowlton, a major builder in Ohio who ran the Knowlton Construction Co., from offices in Bellefontaine and Columbus, designed, built, and financed 54 dorms and other buildings on college campuses across the country. He was responsible for major portions of the construction at Ohio University and Bowling Green State University, as well as buildings at Ohio State, Miami of Ohio, Capital University, Otterbein College, and elsewhere.
Among Knowlton's sporting interests was the breeding of show horses at his Emerald Farm in Delaware County. He was also a trustee of the Brown Jug Society, which runs the Triple Crown for standardbred pacing horses.
Knowlton received a degree in architecture and civil engineering from Ohio State. In 1995, Ohio State's Board of Trustees awarded him a Doctorate of Architecture.
He is survived by two daughters, P. Valerie Knowlton of Delaware, Ohio, and Suzzanne Schultz of Miami, Fla., and a son, Peter M. Knowlton. Funeral arrangements are pending.
SUM OF THIS 41: Chris Edmonds may be playing fullback and he may be wearing No. 41. But he has already told head coach Marvin Lewis that any resemblance to Lorenzo Neal is purely coincidental
"That's my number, that's not Lorenzo's number. I love that number," said Edmonds, who wore No. 41 while playing every game at outside linebacker during his four seasons at West Virginia. "When he first talked to me about playing fullback, I told Coach Lewis not to expect me to be Lorenzo. But I can be Chris and contribute to this team."
Lewis, who has uncharacteristically and unabashedly praised Edmonds' work in the club's derby for No. 1 fullback, knows full well the 6-3, 250-pound Edmonds is not the 5-11, 245-pound Neal. Lewis soothed Edmonds' fears right away, telling him he has different strengths than those that put Neal in the last Pro Bowl.
Neal is a hitter, Lewis told Edmonds, while he is more athletic. He gives the Bengals more of a receiving threat when they are in the regular formation of a running back and fullback than when Neal was in there.
Even while Edmonds spent his rookie year playing linebacker and then last year as a tight end, he took notes on how Neal went about playing his position long before Lewis converted him to fullback in response to the departures of Neal (San Diego) and Nicolas Luchey (Green Bay) to free agency.
"I was always an admirer of Lorenzo because no matter what was going on, he would knock people out," Edmonds said. "That's what I picked up from
him. You have to go hard against them all the time, or else they're going to get you first. He used to joke about it, but he was dead serious when it came down to it. He likes to take people out."
Neal's mentality rubbed off on Edmonds while both played special teams, with Neal urging Edmonds to hit people before they hit him. Edmonds might not be able to consistently detonate defenders the way Neal did the past two seasons, but his play on special teams last year convinced Edmonds he can deal some of it out.
"If you can blow people up on special teams, you can blow them up anywhere," Edmonds said. "I was able to blow up people playing at linebacker, and now I get a running start at fullback against defensive ends and linebackers. The linebacker has to read more than attack. The fullback is the exact opposite. It's attack and then read and you can do it on the dead run while the linebacker has to shuffle his feet."
There has been some shuffling of feet. but no more. When the pads come on July 28 in the first training camp practice, Edmonds thinks he'll be able to show his mettle. When you're just wearing helmets and shorts as they have for the three minicamps, you never really know how hard the other guy is going to go against you. There are indications Edmonds has a slight edge in a race with fourth-rounder Jeremi Johnson and veteran Terry Witherspoon, but how they do in pads is going to define the competition.
"All I have to do is not be 6-3 with my pads on," Edmonds said. "If I'm 5-11 with my pads on, I'm going to be good. I'm tall for a fullback, but if I get my knees bent and my hips under me, I should be able to excel."
Edmonds thinks he did all he could do without the pads to show them he can convert. Few mental errors. Reliability. Quickness. Confidence carrying the ball. Good hands.
"I think they would like to throw to me. I feel good when I catch the ball and go up field and they've had me catch a lot of balls out there already," said Edmonds, a standout tight end at Pittsburgh's Woodland Hills High School. "I feel funny taking a handoff. I've got to get used to that with the pads on, but I feel comfortable once I get it."
But Edmonds knows job security is directly attached to the rushing numbers for running back Corey Dillon. He knows what they want to find out when the pads come on.
"If I can move everybody out of the way for Corey," said Edmonds, who plans to do it with his own number in his own way.
SAMS RELEASED:** The Bengals waived cornerback Tierre Sams Wednesday after he returned from a brief stint in the World Bowl a few weeks ago for the Rhein Fire. Sams, a first-year player, originally signed with the Bengals in 2002 as a college free agent out of Fresno State and played in all four of the team's pre-season games before being waived Sept. 1. The Bengals re-signed Sams to their off-season roster Dec. 31, and later allocated him to NFL Europe.
CAMP WEATHERSBY:** Bengals strength coach Chip Morton has given rookie cornerback Dennis Weathersby good news and bad news. The bad news is no surprise. His level of conditioning compared to the rest of the team is low. But the good news is he's got five weeks to improve before the first practice of training camp July 28 at Georgetown College in Georgetown, Ky.
"He's eager, he's cooperative, he does what you tell him, and he's getting plenty of attention," Morton said Monday. "You could say he's almost going through his own minicamp. The goal is still to get him ready for the first day of training camp."
Weathersby, the first player drafted in the fourth round, is viewed as a potential big-time contributor in a secondary that needs major upgrades. But he didn't get his first taste of Cincinnati until last Wednesday, nearly two months after he was shot in the back during an Easter Sunday drive-by-shooting in his hometown of Duarte, Calif.
After suffering massive blood loss, Weathersby was housebound for the post-draft minicamp May 2-5, and was barred from Paul Brown Stadium for the following month because Oregon State didn't graduate until the weekend of June 14-15. Now that he's arrived, Morton has had to ease him into the workouts and he's encouraged by what has transpired so far.
"From what I understand, he was working out very informally," Morton said. "About six miles per hour on the treadmill. It's going to be a process and we're going to gradually bump him up."
For instance, on Monday Weathersby increased his time on the stepper from 10 to 12 minutes. He has been stretching and warming up, and on Tuesday he'll run his longest distance since he arrived. He's also lifting weights, but Morton is making sure he's not overdoing it.
"At first, we're breaking it into two sessions," Morton said. "If I was to put him through a two-and-a-half-hour session, that would hammer him. We're going to do it in chunks here and there."
Weathersby is also being tutored by secondary coaches Kevin Coyle and Louie Cioffi on film work and technique in what has become a crash course. Weathersby is going to miss much of next week to attend the NFL's rookie symposium, and the facility is closed to players the last ten days before training camp.
"I don't see any setbacks on the way and we feel like he's going to continue to progress," Morton said.
The Bengals and Weathersby's agents have advised him they feel it's in his best interest to hold off on media interviews until camp opens.