Rehberg steps in as Jones recovers

12-10-033:25 p.m.

BY GEOFF HOBSON

Levi Jones' knee has improved so dramatically during the last day that he walked around the Bengals' locker room Wednesday without crutches 48 hours after arthroscopic surgery to repair torn cartilage.

But he's still doubtful to start at left tackle against the 49ers Sunday and all indications are Scott Rehberg is going to get his first start there since 1999.

"They aren't having me do much," Jones said after practice. "Just range of motion stuff. . .The ligaments have to get used to moving without the cartilage being in there.

"It's been getting better. I couldn't walk yesterday, but then when I left here I was walking lightly," Jones said. "Today I'm walking around without crutches. At that that pace, hopefully I'll be running by Saturday and playing by Sunday."

For now, Sunday looks to be Rehberg's day, and his teammates are confident it will be better than last Sunday when he filled in for Jones against the Ravens and allowed two sack-and-fumbles and committed two false starts. Right tackle Willie

Anderson said just the mechanics of playing in his own stadium is going to allow Rehberg to improve because he'll be able to line up closer to the outside rush rather than closer to the ball.

Quarterback Jon Kitna, who took the brunt of the move, says there is no reason to panic after looking at the reasons for the Raven onslaught.

"Every defensive lineman was getting a jump on our offensive line," Kitna said of the game against Baltimore. "Why? Because they couldn't hear me. Combination of the crowd noise and my voice being basically gone. They couldn't hear and when you add in the fact you're in there for the first time, playing left tackle against (Pro Bowl linebacker Peter Boulware) who is one of the best, and playing at home, it's going to be a tough situation.

"I don't think it would have mattered who was there at the time," Kitna said. "This week, my voice will be better, Lord willing. The crowd won't be as loud. They'll be on our side. (The Niners) will have to deal with it and we'll be just fine. . .Scott Rehberg has been in this league (seven years) because he's a good player."

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