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Most of field survives

7-12-02, 2:10 p.m.

After allowing for a week of recovery following the Billy Graham Mission at Paul Brown Stadium, stadium officials say less than half the field has to be re-sodded.

Eric Brown, managing director of the stadium, said Friday the only areas that suffered significant damage were just in front of the stage and an 85-yard path down the center of the field where a plywood road was used by mission volunteers to transport materials.

The sod where the road and stage rested for the mission has been removed, and new sod from a New Jersey farm is set to be installed on Tuesday afternoon. Brown said his staff was happy with how things turned out given the use of the field for an event other than a football game.

"We were pleasantly surprised with being able to save as much of the field as we were able to," Brown said. "All in all, I think things went well and we are

surprised we did not have to replace as much of the field as we anticipated."

According to Brown, the rest of the field seems to be coming back to health. Members of the Bengals' ground crew are using water and fertilizer on all parts of the field. Brown said there are some brown areas, but he has no concerns of those spots remaining that way once the start of the season arrives.

The Billy Graham Mission has agreed to pay for the replacement sod, which will be a thick-cut sod, roughly an inch and one-quarter thick. Brown said this sod is thicker than what currently makes up the field, which allows for faster growth in those areas damaged from the mission.

Brown said damage to the field was less than expected, and that although the mission agreed to pay an estimated $98,000 for field repairs, the actual cost is now estimated at $25,000.

With the preseason home opener Aug. 24, stadium officials are confident the field will be in good condition for football. According to groundskeeper Doug Bradley, the entire field will have 40 days to return to its original form.

"I think we're in good shape," Bradley said. "It's my feeling that we're doing everything right, doing it the right way, and I think we'll be in fine shape."

EVANS SIGNS: The Bengals Friday agreed to a three-year contract with defensive end Joey Evans, the club's seventh-round draft pick.

Evans (6-4, 279; North Carolina) emerged as an NFL prospect last season despite playing in the shadows of North Carolina' defensive linemen Julius Peppers and Ryan Sims, both top 10 picks in the 2002 Draft.

"We see Joey as a player with a real

upside," said Duke Tobin, Bengals director of player personnel who handled the contract negotiation. "His body has developed quite a bit in the last year, he's added good weight, and we think his best football is ahead of him. "He's got some versatility. We think he can compete at both the strong-side and weak-side end positions. He's going to be a factor in our competition and provide some excellent depth."

Evans promises to bring total effort to the field when the Bengals stage their first training camp practice on July 26 at Georgetown (Ky.) College.

"I'm never going to stop on the field," he said. "I think I have a high motor. I was overshadowed by some of my teammates (at North Carolina), but I'm a good player, too. I'm not your classic outside pass-rusher, but I can be a smash-mouth, tough defensive end."

Evans is the third of the Bengals' six draft picks to sign for this season. Also signed are tight end Matt Schobel (3rd round) and strong safety Marquand Manuel (6th round). Still unsigned are left tackle Levi Jones (1st round), free safety Lamont Thompson (2nd round) and kicker/punter Travis Dorsch (4th round).

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