Readers to pick Bengals' best

5-8-02, 7:30 p.m.

BY GEOFF HOBSON

In honor of the Bengals' upcoming 35th anniversary season, readers can choose the club's all-time team via bengals.com fan polls throughout the spring and summer.

Each poll asks voters to choose the best player in the history of the franchise at each position, minimum 10,000 votes. The team and results are to be unveiled the week of the regular-season opener, which is a 1 p.m. game against San Diego Sept. 8.

The first poll begins Wednesday, May 8, and asks readers to name the Bengals' best quarterback ever. **

KRUMRIE RETURNS:** One of those guys who figures to be on the club's all-time team is defensive line coach Tim Krumrie and on Thursday it looked like he could anchor the old-timer's game. With his line depleted by injuries to Glen Steele (knee) and Reinard Wilson (shoulder) at a voluntary practice, Krumrie grabbed Oliver Gibson's No. 99 jersey and Steele's helmet and stepped in on the base defense.

Krumrie, who turns 42 next week, weighs about 50 pounds less than his Pro Bowl days at 290 pounds. But he continues to be a workout warrior (three times a day in the offseason), so he hardly looked out of place as he locked up with center Rich Braham in the half-speed scrimmage stuff. Braham, a rookie in 1994, is the only guy around who practiced against Krumrie in his last season since receiver Darnay Scott is sitting out these workouts.

"He's a lot lighter than I remember," Braham said. "But you know he knows the scheme. He coaches it every day."

Krumrie shrugged off his nostalgia bit ("It was fun, getting kidded is part of it"), but Bengals President Mike Brown scouted the new guy.

"He looks pretty quick and he looks as natural in his stance as the other guys," Brown said.

**

TIGHT SWITCH:** Maybe the Bengals have Chris Edmonds' number and maybe it is 90-something. That's about the only number a backup linebacker/tight end can wear, but equipment managers Rob Recker and Jeff Brickner aren't making up jerseys just yet.

The month of May is the NFL's lab class, and so the Bengals are merely experimenting with switching Edmonds from linebacker to tight end as they look for some answers at their most depleted roster spot.

The rain washed out Edmonds' offensive debut Wednesday, but head coach Dick LeBeau is adamant about getting a look as soon as possible, and that should come Thursday when the Bengals' veterans end their first of four weeks in voluntary workouts.

"We got to talking about it in a staff meeting and the question came up if you would want a backup player who did both offense and defense and the answer was pretty much, 'Who wouldn't?'" LeBeau said. "We're

definitely going to try it and we would have today. This is the time to do it and if we like what see, we can make some kind of call for training camp."

The 6-3, 250-pound Edmonds is no neophyte at the spot. He says he was a "Parade," All-American tight end at Woodland Hills High School in Pittsburgh before playing four seasons at linebacker at West Virginia. Although the rookie college free agent spent 13 weeks on their practice squad last year and didn't dress for the last three games when he was promoted to the roster, the Bengals kept Edmonds around because they have high hopes for him as a backer who can play both outside spots.

"The things that make him an excellent prospect at linebacker are what make him interesting at tight end," said Duke Tobin, the club's director of pro/college personnel. "He's big, he's athletic and he has shown he's got some pretty good hands."

Edmonds appears to be a donation from defensive coordinator Mark Duffner. Duffner, who would love to have Edmonds for himself, took one for the club when he threw out Edmonds' name because he knows they need somebody at tight end. At least until the rookies come back May 16, or possibly for much longer. The only vet tight end at the moment is Kirk McMullen. Starter Sean Brewer is expected to be sidelined for the rest of the month with a small hamstring tear, H-Back Nick Williams has been out with a strained hip flexor, and rookie Matt Schobel hopes his sore hamstring can be ready once he returns next week.

"Whatever Duff says, I'm on his side," Edmonds said. "I don't think it's going to be that hard of a switch. He knows I can run and catch if I don't do anything else. If I train for a 40 (yard dash), I could crank up a 4.6."

Edmonds, who has an advertising degree, knows how well versatility will promote a NFL career that is beginning on the fringes. One of the reasons the Bengals want to try him is that he's a no-nonsense guy who began working out this offseason at Paul Brown Stadium on Feb. 1.

"Coming from West Virginia, I'm used to not taking any time off," Edmonds said. "A lot of guys take a month off here and there. If I take off that long, I don't feel like I'm doing anything. Give me a 90s number and let's see where it goes."

LeBeau isn't making any promises because, "We want him to stay in touch with linebacker because we think he's a good one. But we also think he could be a pretty good tight end, too, so let's use the next few weeks just to see. That's what this time is for."

THIS AND THAT: Defensive end Reinard Wilson will miss the rest of the May voluntary camps with a small labrum tear in his shoulder, where last year's sack leader also has some arthritis. Trainer Paul Sparling has scheduled arthroscopic surgery for next Tuesday and expects Wilson to be cleared by the end of June, a good month before training camp. Wilson is the second defensive lineman (Glen Steele's knee) who is to be scoped, but be back in time for training camp. . .

Sparling said wide receiver

Peter Warrick's eye exam Wednesday showed he would benefit from "corrective lenses. It's not bad enough to have laser surgery, but he'll probably begin working on the contacts." . . .

The Bengals got washed out of practice for the second time in three days Wednesday, which is a rarity. And because it's so rare, that's a reason why there might not be an indoor practice bubble at PBS any time soon. But probably the biggest reason is space limitations. The shade of the bubble would kill much needed grass and there is a possibility the adjacent highway could be widened.

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