BY GEOFF HOBSON
With Jason Ferguson gone to Dallas and Pat Williams gone to Minnesota, the Bengals are looking at the best run-stopper left on the market in the 6-4, 296-pound Robinson, a seasoned eight-year veteran who has an excellent locker room reputation in their bid to shore up a defense that allowed nine 100-yard rushers last season.
The Bengals, who don't confirm visits until they are completed, are digesting the $9 million hit of running back Rudi Johnson and wide receiver T.J. Houshmandzadeh that has put them near the salary cap and they appear to be moving cautiously in their next move.
Robinson, who turns 31 in June, has missed just one game in the last six seasons, and started 13 games last year for Miami's No. 8 defense in the NFL. The Dolphins were one of six teams that finished below the Bengals defending the run, but it was a defense riddled by injuries.
He had four tackles in his first Miami start when the Bengals won the Sept. 19 Sunday night game at Paul Brown Stadium despite getting just 94 yards on the ground. Robinson also had 11 tackles in a 20-17 loss in Denver Dec. 12.
Robinson moved from backup to starting 13 games at tackle because of injuries to Tim Bowens and Larry Chester. The Sun-Sentinel said it's believed the Dolphins want to re-sign Robinson, but they are also recruiting free-agent defensive linemen Kevin Carter, Vonnie Holliday, Bobby Hamilton and Tony Bryant.
After starting all 16 games for a Bears defense that finished 14th in the NFL in 2003, Robinson hooked on with Miami after he was cut just before the season. He made his name in Chicago after playing a season with a Rams club that signed him as a free agent out of Fresno State. In 2001, he helped the Bears to the playoffs by leading the line with tackles and passes defenses.
Also Thursday, the agent for Bengals safety Anthony Mitchell thought his client would be headed back to Cincinnati soon. Mitchell, a favorite of head coach Marvin Lewis and special teams coach Darrin Simmons, finished third on special teams with 16 tackles.
"They like him and he likes it there," said George Mavrikes. "I don't expect there to be much of a problem there."
Vern Sharbaugh, the agent for center Rich Braham, said he talked with the Bengals on Thursday and that Braham's rehab from a deep bone bruise and a small fracture around the knee looks to be healing well. Once Braham is cleared, the sides figure they can reach a deal.