12-18-01 6:00 p.m. Updated:
12-20-01, 12:50 a.m. Updated:
12-20-01, 10:35 a.m.
BY GEOFF HOBSON
The Bengals made room on the active roster for quarterback Scott Covington Thursday morning by placing starting left cornerback Mark Roman on injured reserve for the rest of the season. Roman became the third cornerback to suffer a season-ending injury (Rodney Heath and Tom Carter) after suffering a compound dislocation of his finger when a ball hit it just right during drills at Wednesday's practice.
Rookie free agent Kevin Kaesviharn gets his first NFL start against the Ravens in place of Roman. Cornerbacks coach Kevin Coyle said before Thursday's practice that Kaesviharn has held up well because of his ball awareness and instincts.
Running back Corey Dillon sat out Wednesday's practice with his dislocated right pinky and he's expected to return Thursday. Left outside linebacker Steve Foley (back) didn't work and is questionable.
Covington, a seventh-round pick in 1999, signed a one-year deal before Thursday's practice. Scott Mitchell, still listed as doubftful with his rib-cage injury, said he felt much better Thursday and wouldn't rule out playing Sunday, "but I couldn't play today."
In this war of words, don't forget Bengals left guard Matt O'Dwyer and Ravens defensive tackle Tony "The Goose," Siragusa. Siragusa, who has read for a role on "The Sopranos," has never shied away from taking shots at O'Dwyer. He's called him the dirtiest player he's ever faced more than once.
"There are no mind games," O'Dwyer said. "I don't think (I'm a dirty player). He's a Jersey guy, an East Coast guy. He loves the media. He's fortunate to be on a pretty good squad. When you're winning games, it seems like everybody is listening to you. Last year he went to the Super Bowl. All the things he's said in the past, now people are probably taking him seriously."
Asked if he'll talk to the 370-pound Siragusa Sunday, O'Dywer said, "I always say something to him. I think you can only say, 'fat slob,' in so many different ways."
ONE FOR THE BOOKS: Bengals President Mike Brown experienced some déjà vu when he saw the tape of the coup d'etat from Cleveland Sunday of Browns' fans taking over the stadium in an ugly bottle-throwing incident.
Brown cited a NFL rule in which coaches aren't allowed to pull their teams off the field. But since he saw one head coach do it once just in the nick of time, he's always wondered if that's the right rule.
Back in the '50s, when he was a college student and the Giants never beat the Browns, New York pulled a rout and an upset at Yankee Stadium. As Brown stood on the sidelines not far from his father, Cleveland head coach Paul Brown, the stadium erupted with fans charging the railings and storming the field while breaking glass beer bottles and using them as knives in a frightening display.
"People got hurt," Mike Brown said. "My Dad was a target. He took his people off the field. He got out of there pretty quickly and he told his players, "Follow me," and he was criticized for that. Eventually they went back to complete it, but I don't think it made much sense to go back out there. Whether it did in Cleveland (Sunday), I don't know.
"It's understandable why someone might think that (coaching) rule works," Brown said. "Coaches are under stress. They can let their emotions override their judgement. On the other hand, having been in one of those, I can understand the other side. Which is, 'Why wait and call headquarters before you run for your life?'"
Brown could also understand the disappointment of Browns owner Al Lerner and president Carmen Policy that spawned their initial ill-advised comments of Sunday night. He felt they cleared up things Monday, but he
doesn't understand why some fans act like that and get away with it.
"The one thing I can't accept is the behavior of fans who are really engaged in criminal activity. It's not to be excused simply because it's a fan," Brown said. "This stuff about that thinking that gives license to attack, it's wrong. That message has to be out, and driven home hard. I don't think it can be excused with any rationale."
Brown has never been wild about the antics of the Dawg Pound. The Bengals had just about everything tossed at them in Cleveland's old Municipal Stadium.
"We had it on tape the next day, Brown said. "Our guy is going for a catch in the end zone and a beer bottle goes whizzing by his helmet. We had batteries thrown at us, rivets. Everything.
"That's the stuff you can't have. I know the fans were disappointed," Brown said. "It was one of those too-close-to-call calls. It probably could have gone either way."
Brown knew what Policy and Lerner were feeling when the Browns lost a shot at the playoffs on that controversial no-catch call.
"I understand why they said what they said," Brown said. "They were disappointed how the game turned out. They were wrapped up in their cause. On further review, they looked at what happened without the emotion and came out with a different answer, which was probably the best answer."
Brown didn't get hurt that day in New York. But other people did.
"No one knew who I was, so I just walked around and took it all in," he said. "When you've lived one of those, it's hard to forget."
ROSTER MOVE:** Still no word Tuesday if quarterback Akili Smith is going to have surgery on his torn left hamstring, but the Bengals put him on injured reserve for the rest of the season. They replaced him on the roster with rookie outside linebacker Chris Edmonds, a free agent from West Virginia who has spent the season on the practice squad.
The Bengals opted to go into Sunday's game in Baltimore with two quarterbacks and use receiver Peter Warrick as the emergency third. They did sign former Browns quarterback Kevin Thompson and rookie wide receiver Khori Ivy to the practice squad Tuesday.
The 6-5, 236-pound Thompson
got cut following Cleveland's training camp this past summer with an injury settlement. As a rookie free agent with the Browns out of Penn State last season, Thompson got cut after the opener and was re-signed when Tim Couch got hurt six weeks later.
He was the third quarterback for six straight weeks and completed his only pass for eight yards in the one game he appeared before ending the season on injured reserve with a bad ankle.
"We liked his size and he had a quick release, but it was a close call," said Bengals director of pro/college personnel Jim Lippincott of Tuesday's tryout between Thompson and Ricky Ray. "He had pretty nice footwork and he's got a lot of NFL experience for a practice squad guy."
The Bengals figure even if they brought in a veteran like Eric Zeier or their own Scott Covington, it's so late in the season that they would be so limited in what they can do it wouldn't be worth it. This way, they give a player they like in Edmonds the possibility of getting a shot in games or keeping him out of free agency. Lippincott said this past week Buffalo, Green Bay and Indianapolis had just two quarterbacks.
Ivy, a rookie out of West Virginia, spent time on the New England practice squad after Tampa Bay cut him before the regular season.