BY GEOFF HOBSON
Bengals President Mike Brown says his team played the biggest game of all on grass more chewed than the much-maligned field at Paul Brown Stadium.
"We've played on worse fields than that," Brown said Thursday as he watched the Bengals practice on their Astroturf practice field.
"In fact, we played a Super Bowl on a worse field down in Miami (in 1989). Nobody got hurt on (this) field. I apologize for the teams that felt discomfort in there. . .next year we don't expect to have that type of problem."
What Brown didn't say is the Bengals suffered a crushing injury on that Joe Robbie Stadium grass. Pro Bowl nose tackle Tim Krumrie broke his leg early in that game on a field that was more like quicksand.
Brown said he's not concerned about a possible fine for the condition of the field in last week's home finale against Jacksonville in which the Jaguars called for the NFL to take action.
Brown said the club tried to do what it could with a temporary Bermuda grass field that had to be installed after the tougher bluegrass field died in a Maryland drought.
It reached the point of no return after the weekend of Nov. 10-12, when pee wee football games were played on the field two weeks before the Bengals game against the Steelers.
"People don't like to hear this, but the fact they played (30) games in there wore it down," Brown said. "When we came back, the middle of the field was gone. From that point forward, it was an unsatisfactory field."
Reflecting on the first year of the stadium, Brown still can't get over how beautiful the building is. And, how much pounding the club continues to take for it existing.
"It's a tremendous injustice in my eyes how the stadium is characterized as a $450 million stadium," Brown said. "When $100 million is really the price of opening up the downtown development. . . .And the cost overruns continue to be a story and they aren't any different than in other cities."
EXTENSION GAME: The Bengals could be grinding in free agency for starting offensive linemen. Center Rich Braham, left guard Matt O'Dwyer, and left tackle John Jackson rejected initial contract extension offers, but are keeping the lines of communication open before free agency starts March 2.
"It just wasn't what I had in mind and we'll see what happens," said Braham, who has started 68 games at center and guard for the Bengals since getting picked up on waivers in 1994.
NUMBING NUMBERS: Sean Keeler of "The Cincinnati Post," has offered a stat worthy of a stocking stuffer.
Bengals running back Corey Dillon is on pace to have the most rushing yards in a 16-game season on a team with the fewest net yards passing with one game left.
Dillon is getting 93 yards per game (1,396 yards) and the Bengals are passing for 118.5 per game (1,777). The record for fewest team yards passing with a 1,400-yard rusher is Eric Dickerson of a 1984 Rams club that threw for 2,142 yards.
INJURY UPDATE:** WR Peter Warrick sat out practice Thursday with a bruised leg, but is OK. . .DT John Copeland (calf) is supposed to practice Friday for the first time this week to see if he can get upgraded to probable.