BY GEOFF HOBSON
GEORGETOWN, Ky. _ Bengals receiver Darnay Scott returned to the scene of the crime today vowing he'll come back from his broken leg faster than ever.
Two weeks after ending his season when he broke both bones in his lower left leg, Scott sat in a golf cart watching practice here at Georgetown College with team trainer Paul Sparling. He remembered Sparling saying it was a career-threatening injury for a speed receiver who rattled foes with his ability to run 40 yards in 4.4 seconds.
"I'm telling you Paul, I like doubters," said Scott with a sly smile. "If you doubt me, that just guarantees I'll do it. Say what they want to say. I'm coming back as fast I was or faster. 4.3, Paul. Easy."
Sparling would love to see it and isn't ruling anything out. The surgery to place a rod in the leg was successful and Scott already has good range of motion in his ankle and knee. Sparling said there's a possibility Scott could be cleared to practice as soon as a late April minicamp, but a lot has to go right.
Bengals defensive line coach Tim Krumrie returned from a similar injury in Super Bowl XXIII in seven months to start the opener. But Sparling cautions as a nose tackle, Krumrie didn't have to run a 4.4 40.
"It's a great goal to shoot for and he's already on the right track," Sparling said. "The reason we put the rod in instead of putting him in a cast was so we wouldn't have to wait six weeks to work on his range of motion and he's got excellent motion in his knee and ankle. There's little swelling, and there was no complication with the surgey, so he's got a good start."
Scott plans to head back to his St. Louis home this weekend, where he spent part of his offseason doing speed work with Olympic star Jackie Joyner-Kersee and her husband/coach Bob Kersee. Bob already called him after the injury and told him to get back home so he can get started running in water and begin building up the leg before he can even stand on it.
"People kept telling me this was the year I was going to the Pro Bowl," Scott said. "(Carl Pickens) was gone, there wasn't this to worry about, or that to worry about, and I damn near made it last year. But I'm not going to let it mess with my mind. It's going to make me focus better so I can get there next year."
During the past two weeks, Scott has been passing messages to the receivers through rookie Peter Warrick, mainly because that's the only phone number he has. But it's working out because Warrick has been switched to Scott's flanker spot, otherwise known as the "Z,' receiver.
"The Z is off the ball, so they can't get a hand on you, they can't bump you. That's an advantage for us," Scott said. "That's the big difference from the X, and there's only one or two different routes."
If Scott can't get Warrick on the horn, he leaves messages urging the young receivers on.
"Don't worry about dropping balls," Scott said. "Go back to the huddle and catch the next one, that's all. . .Take nothing for granted. Hold nothing back. Dominate the person in front of you."
NIPPERT MEMORIES: Bengals coach Bruce Coslet, who on Saturday becomes the only player or coach to be on the sidelines at all three of the club's homes, doesn't have the greatest memories of Nippert Stadium. Coslet, a tight end, played at Nippert in his rookie season of 1969, the year before the Bengals moved into Riverfront Stadium. He remembers dressing on gym bleachers and walking about half a mile at halftime to get back to the field.
"It was OK," Coslet said. "I didn't care for the asphalt training track they had around the stadium. For a couple of games they had to paint the field green to make it look good."
Coslet had good reason not to like the track. He broke his kneecap in half trying to stop on the cement and skidded into the first step of the stands. He pulled himself up on the arm of an official and finished the game, but was out the next five weeks.
INJURY UPDATE: DE Vaughn Booker sat out today's practice with a cyst behind his left knee and is probable for Saturday. . .So is WR Craig Yeast, who rested his knee for tendinitis. . .RB Sedrick Shaw returned today after recovering from a bout of headaches. . .CB Brian Gray is questionable with a sore toe. . .RB Curtis Keaton sat out to rest some soreness. . .C Rich Braham (knee) and DE Michael Bankston (knee and calf) got checked by doctors today and are on track to play in the Sept. 10 regular-season opener.