Mitchell probably out for Sunday

12-19-01, 4:05 p.m.

BY GEOFF HOBSON

The Bengals were left with one quarterback for Sunday's game in Baltimore when Scott Mitchell was ruled "very doubtful," after suffering a rib-cage injury on his right side while throwing a pass halfway through Wednesday's practice.

Help is on the way. One of the agents for Scott Covington said his client is headed from California to Cincinnati and will be at Thursday's practice. Covington spent all of training camp and a few weeks of this season with the Bengals during a stint in which was released twice.

"He's been working out and he could play," said Joby Branion.

Also out for the Baltimore game with a dislocated finger from Wednesday's practice is starting left cornerback Mark Roman.

After Akili Smith's season-ending

hamstring injury in New York last week, Jon Kitna is the only quarterback standing. Because of the injured middle finger on his throwing hand, Kitna was supposed to split Wednesday's snaps with the left-handed Mitchell. Kevin Thompson, who hadn't taken a snap since July in training camp for the Browns, was the scout team quarterback Wednesday during his first day on the practice squad.

Kita finished practice and it looks like he's the starter even if the finger is a concern.

"It's more sore than I thought it was going to be today," said Kitna after practice. "Today it was more of a factor than since I started practicing last Friday. The good thing about practicing with it is I have time to adjust things if I have to."

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