Receivers crunch numbers

8-25-03, 8:30 p.m.

BY GEOFF HOBSON

With Michigan record-setter Marquise Walker's arrival off the waiver wire Monday, there is speculation at Paul Brown Stadium that head coach Marvin Lewis isn't pleased with his wide receiver situation. That has raised some eyebrows because the Bengals need to cut one player by 4 p.m. Tuesday to get to 66.

But Lewis didn't sound like Walker is an immediate answer after the Cardinals released him before Friday's pre-season game. Walker, a third-round draft pick of Tampa Bay in 2002, missed all last season with a surgically-repaired broken thumb and torn ligaments. The Bucs traded him for running back Thomas Jones back on June 13, and apparently the Cards weren't pleased with what they got in return and cut him after he caught one ball for nine yards in two pre-season games.

"He's going to practice with us for a couple of days and we'll see from there," Lewis said after Monday's workout. "Our scouting staff has a certain liking to Marquise so we

have the ability to take a look at him and we'll look at him for a couple of days."

Lewis hopes this is the last time the Bengals are first in the waiver-wire order, but he thinks it worked out well for the team two months ago when it claimed safety Rogers Beckett from the Chargers. So, "we might as well do our due diligence and take care of business as much as possible."

As for Walker, he said he was surprised he wasn't starting in Arizona, never mind not playing. If it's a team that needs receivers, it's the Cardinals after losing David Boston (San Diego), Frank Sanders (Baltimore), and MarTay Jenkins (Atlanta) to free agency.

"I'm just looking for the right place, the opportunity, just a chance to get on the field," Walker said. "I've got size, I can catch the ball, and hopefully do some special teams."

Various wideouts have been perceived as possibly on the bubble if they keep just five on the roster, such as T.J. Houshmandzadeh and Danny Farmer. One move that had been talked about on the Bengals' radio network during Saturday night's game was analyst Dave Lapham's suggestion that wide receiver Ron Dugans could be placed on injured reserve for the entire season. Dugans, the Bengals' special teams ace, has yet to play in a game with Achilles' tendonitis, and Lewis has stressed the importance of practicing before playing in games.

The Bengals now have eight receivers with Walker, Houshmandzadeh, Farmer, Dugans, Lawrence Hamilton, Chad Johnson, Peter Warrick, and Kelley Washingon. With it possible that they could keep just five wideouts so they might go with 10 defensive backs, that means three have to go by Aug. 31.

"We have to make sure it's important we have guys that can play in all areas of the game," Lewis said. "Part of playing receiver is running the routes, blocking, special teams, and we're trying to find that combination of people."

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