Nixon-St. Louis-Mathias-Kickers-Coslet Ops-Injuries

By GEOFF HOBSON

Nixon joins Cincy agent

James Gould, a veteran Cincinnati-based NFL agent who has done deals with the hometown team, is joining with Norm Nixon of Los Angeles to represent Bengals first-round draft pick Peter Warrick. The announcement could be made as soon as Monday, after the final workout of the club's minicamp.

"It's the best of both worlds for Peter," Gould said. "He's got a Norm Nixon who has as many contacts in the entertainment business as anyone and has the experience of a former athlete who has been on world championship teams. And I've got the experience of doing unique football contracts going back to the USFL days. Norm Nixon and Peter Warrick are going to dispel the notion about this town. People are going to die to come to Cincinnati."

Gould, who used to live in Los Angeles, and Nixon have known each other for a few years and always pledged to work with each other if the opportunity surfaced. Nixon, who represents entertainers as well as a handful of NBA and NFL players, phoned Gould when he came to town this weekend. In the past few days, Gould has put Nixon in touch with members of the community, such as his sister, a member of the board of trustees for the Underground Railroad Museum, as they attempt to put together a diversified package for their client and the community.

The museum interests Nixon. His wife, actress/dancer/producer/director Debbie Allen, has starred on stage as Harriet Tubman, and he could see her bringing the show to Cincinnati.

"There's a lot of things that can be done," Nixon said. "We can get involved bringing entertainment to Cincinnati through the theatre."

Gould says Nixon, Magic Johnson's shooting guard on the NBA Lakers of the '80s, is the point guard in this negotiation. But Nixon said he wouldn't hesitate to call on Gould's experience, which includes deals for former Bengals Keith Rucker and Steve Tovar. Gould also had a hand in the Dan Wilkinson trade that sent him to Washington after dealing with the Bengals.

Plus, Gould coaches the soccer team of the daughter of Katie Blackburn, the Bengals' lead negotiator.

"I've got high regard for (Bengals President) Mike Brown and Katie. I know them and they know me," Gould said. "It's going to be a positive negotiation. I work well with Norm. There is no ego. We think this is win-win for Peter and the town. After all, he's going to be here 10, 12, 14 years."

**

MEET ME IN ST. LOUIS:

** Seventh-round draft pick Brad St. Louis has been here just two days, but the Southwest Missouri State product may be one of the few roster locks as the team's new long-snapper. From the time the ball left the ground until it reached the punter's hand today, St. Louis' snap speed ranged from .67 to .74 seconds, much faster than last year's snaps.

On a good day, Greg Truitt, the team's last outstanding long snapper, would be between .63 and .66 seconds, "and this kid is right there," said Jim Lippincott, the club's director of pro/college personnel. "Of course, you have to see how he does with people lined up in his face in the NFL with the band playing and the crowd yelling."

Tight end Steve Bush, the backup snapper, did decently last year with accuracy, but his .78s need to get quicker. Lippincott figures the minimum requirement is .8 and the Bengals had too many .81s last year.

St. Louis, listed as a tight end but earmarked as a specialist, knows what can happen when the long snapping goes bad. He was the punter for his seventh-grade team and when the snapper couldn't get it back to him, the coach put St. Louis over the ball. The coach? His Dad.

**

MATHIAS HURT AGAIN:

** Cornerback Ric Mathias said it best. "I feel like my guts have just been ripped out of me. You can't describe it. " What more could be said after he returned from eight months of rehab for a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee only to tear his left ACL in the first hour of Saturday's first minicamp workout?

Mathias, 24, went on injured reserve after blowing out his right knee in last season's preseason opener. He's headed home to Wisconsin to seek a second opinion.

"It's a freak accident. Completely unrelated to the other one," Mathias said today, a day after he injured the knee on a simple pass route on the new grass practice field. "It's a move we do in individual drills a million times. A back pedal, turn and run. Plant, and an inside pivot. The grass was perfect. I didn't have long cleats. ... I intend to rehab this knee as hard as I did the other one and come back to peak performance. Then I guess it will be up to (the Bengals) if they think I can do it."

Mathias, a free agent out of Division III Wisconsin-LaCrosse, knows it was amazing just to get back to this. To suffer a football player's worst injury and be 100 percent, cleared for practice eight months after surgery. Never mind to be walking again.

"To come from a small school and to work hard enough to come back and prove to your teammates, coaches and management that you wouldn't be a question mark on the field and all of a sudden it happens again," Mathias said. "It makes you think.'

**

KICK COMPETITION:

** In his first head-to-head competition with sixth-round draft pick Neil Rackers, incumbent Doug Pelfrey finished third in kickoffs at this morning's practice. Rackers won the distance and punter Brad Costello the hang time, but Lippincott said Pelfrey looked better and stronger: "His ball sounds like it should off the foot. Sometimes last year it sounded like he was kicking a pillow."

Pelfrey has spent the weekend clarifying what he told reporters after the Bengals drafted Rackers. He said he wasn't upset, just frustrated: "I'm sure everybody in this room felt the same way when someone was drafted at their position. Except for (Carl) Pickens. I'm sure he was happy."

**

GOOD-BYE SPINNEY:

** The morning workout was the last official full team practice ever at less-than glamorous Spinney Field, the only facility the 32-year-old Bengals have known. The Bengals finish the minicamp Monday morning at Paul Brown Stadium and start voluntary practices Tuesday at Spinney. The Bengals are slated to move into their new digs at the stadium by the end of June.

Maybe the man who has spent more time there than anyone but Mike Brown who is still with the team, Coach Bruce Coslet, was far from nostalgic.

"No," he said when asked if he wanted to say a few words about Spinney. "Let it die its ugly death."

**

COSLET'S LAW:

**Coslet fired out one last Spinney decree. Near the end of the morning workout, quarterback Akili Smith got run into a few times by an overanxious defense. Coslet called the team into a huddle before the two-minute drill to end practice and blistered them for not taking care of Smith.

"There was nothing malicious, but they have to be smart," Coslet said. "When they start running over your franchise quarterback, you want to protect him a little. A little common sense with no pads on. No big deal about it, I just stopped it and re-explained the tempo." **

COSLET'S LIKES:

**Coslet liked the work of his defensive backs, especially when cornerback Artrell Hawkins and free safety Darryl Williams had interceptions on a team that had all of 12 last season, none by Hawkins. Williams, who has nearly 30 in his career, said he knows that's why the Bengals brought him back from Seattle: "They want me to be mainly a center-fielder. They don't want to give up the big play like last year."

**

IN THE END:

** Former No. 1 pick Reinard Wilson is heading into his fourth season and he finally thinks he's playing the right position. Wilson had 33.5 sacks as an end in his last three seasons at Florida State. He's got 12 in the NFL, mainly as an outside linebacker: "I felt like I should have been going forward instead of backward the whole time," said Wilson, who checked in at 270 pounds.

**

INJURY UPDATE:

**

  • Rookie receiver Ron Dugans sat out the afternoon session with a mild hamstring strain. Defensive end Vaughn Booker also sat with a mild hip flexor strain. Nose tackle Oliver Gibson was sent to the hospital for fluids. Guard Brian DeMarco, sent home with a virus, should be back Monday. Cornerback Rodney Heath is probable with a thigh bruise.
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