Scott shelved until camp

5-4-02, 7:30 p.m.

BY GEOFF HOBSON

Saturday's CT scan showed no stress fracture, but wide receiver Darnay Scott may be shelved until the July 26 start of training camp to have a 14-inch rod removed from his left leg.

That's the rod Dr. Kevin Reilly inserted in Scott's leg nearly two years ago after he broke it in the 2000 training camp and missed the entire season.

With the Bengals hoping rest and rehab cures him, Scott won't participate in this weekend's minicamp and he'll visit Reilly early next week to find out if the rod has to be removed.

"The way Darnay ran with it last year bodes well that it may not have to be taken out and the X-rays don't show any signs it is loosening," said Bengals trainer Paul Sparling. "There can be a difference in the flexibility between the rod and the bone; and in some instances it can cause inflammation.''

Sparling said if the rod is removed by the end of May, Scott has enough time to be ready for the start of training camp and the two-month

healing process should cut down the risk of him being vulnerable to the same injury.

But Scott is crossing his fingers the rod stays put.

"They say I'd be ready, but who knows once it comes out?" Scott asked. "I can't lie around and not play another season of football. I'll go crazy."

Sparling said there is also the chance that the pain is caused by Scott sprinting harder in the last week in preparation for minicamp and didn't give the leg time to get used to the stepped-up activity.

**

MORE INJURIES:** Backup DL Glen Steele twisted his right knee early in practice and tore his meniscus. He'll miss the next three weeks after he has arthroscopic surgery early this week. . .The Bengals like their tight ends, but they fear their durability and Saturday showed why. H-Back Nick Williams joined tight end Sean Brewer (hamstring tear) on the sidelines when he strained his hip flexor running the introductory 40-yard dash before practice. Like Brewer, he's out for the rest of the weekend. . .

Backup LT John Jackson didn't practice Saturday because of the death of his father. . .CB Artrell Hawkins won't work this weekend as he recovers from having his tonsils removed. . .Three college free agents were waived after they failed their physicals: Widener wide receiver Jim Jones, Buffalo defensive end Bob Dzvonick and Duke defensive end Nate Krill. . .Another free agent, Pittsburgh wide receiver Darcey Levy, won't be ready until training camp as his broken foot heals.

**

THIS AND THAT:** The coaches responded to the absence of second-rounder Lamont Thompson by reverting back to last year's depth chart and starting with Cory Hall at free safety and JoJuan Armour at strong safety. Thompson, sitting out because of a dispute over injury protection, was supposed to be the starting free safety with Armour lining up behind Hall at strong.

Bengals President Mike Brown reiterated Saturday he won't provide written injury protection because Thompson is covered in the collective bargaining agreement. He also says the club will bargain in good faith with Thompson and if he gets hurt, the Bengals will pay him what his slot in the draft (the 41st pick) cals for. . .

To the fans who want more of wide receiver Peter Warrick with the ball: Offensive coordinator Bob Bratkowski has installed packages that feature Warrick running and throwing the ball, as well as catching it. LeBeau was delighted with how Warrick looked, including his fastest 40-yard dash time (figure in the 4.5s) in three years here. Wide receiver Danny Farmer ran close to the same for his fastest.

The day's champs were wide receiver Chad Johnson and running back Curtis Keaton with 4.3s.

**

QB BATTLE JOINED:** The Bengals kept an eye on Gus Frerotte's rehabbing right shoulder Saturday as he split snaps with Jon Kitna and were pleased with his down-field throwing . Some sideline observers thought it was clear Frerotte has the strongest arm of the two while readily admitting that doesn't always decide very much. After watching both men, head coach Dick LeBeau pronounced Frerotte "fit," Kitna "sharp," and the offense "miles ahead of where we were last year at this time."

After being exposed to the playbook for less than 24 hours,

Frerotte admitted his head was swimming.

"I'm sure I'll feel it tomorrow," said Frerotte, with the obligatory ice pack on the shoulder that was surgically repaired four months ago. "I have been throwing, but I haven't been throwing with this tempo. 'Go to the next one, go to the next one' I've been pretty much going at my own pace. My head was swimming a little bit, but by the end of next week I should have it under control."

LeBeau didn't back down from the possibility of having another equal-number-of-snaps quarterback derby at training camp like the one Kitna won last year.

"They say it's always bad for the coach to have a quarterback controversy," LeBeau said. "They're talking about two, but we could have three (Akili Smith). That will be a lot of fun again. . .Competition at any spot makes things better. That is my opinion. Other people have other opinions. You can not have too many good football players."

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