8-2-02, 7:25 p.m.
BY GEOFF HOBSON
GEORGETOWN, Ky. _Here are five things to watch Saturday at the Bengals' intrasquad scrimmage:
- The Rodney Holman Audition:** The tight ends situation has some inside the club worried, but Bengals President Mike Brown says the young players are good enough that they are expected to develop through the season and they have no current plans to go looking for a veteran on the waiver wire.
On one hand, they have to be concerned that converted linebacker Chris Edmonds (No. 87) has risen so quickly with third-round draft Matt Schobel (rib cage) missing snaps and scratched from the scrimmage . On the other hand, the kid is quick and athletic with the good hands of a high school All-American tight end.
The starter is clearly Sean Brewer (No. 88), but like Edmonds and Schobel, he's never taken an NFL snap. He has shown he can stretch the field in drills, but what about in a game? **
- The Doug Pelfrey Pro-Am:** Just like in 2000 when Pelfrey took on sixth-round pick Neil Rackers, Rackers (No. 5) is now taking on a rookie in fourth-rounder Travis Dorsch (No. 2) for the kicking job. Rackers hasn't had
nearly the success that Pelfrey had, but he has come out of the gate firing this camp. The knock on him is that he can't do it in a game, but he sure did it in practice Thursday night when he clearly outkicked Dorsch.
Dorsch looked a bit slow and tentative and admits he has to focus on his kicking more after spending January until the draft thinking he would be drafted as a punter.
Dorsch has been doing both and there is some concern that the punting and kicking motions are so different that it may be throwing him off. **
- The Boomer Esiason Celebrity Quarterbacks Derby, Part V:** In the spirit of Neil O'Donnell and Jeff Blake, the Bengals again try to find a quarterback who can give you a passing rating that breaks 80 and who can also win games. O'Donnell had a 90 rating in 1998, but he won two starts. The last guy to break 80 in a winning streak was Esiason at the end of 1997.
Jon Kitna (No. 3) is the starter, but he and Gus Frerotte (No. 12) are both going to play behind the first offensive line Saturday. Frerotte's arm has impressed everyone down here, but this is the first chance to get a grip on how he has processed the offense.
Kitna has command of the offense, but can he get the ball into the small holes as consistently as Frerotte has and can he cut down on the turnovers that killed him last year?
And Akili Smith is like that summer song from '75. He reminds you that it was all very good once and you can never really get him out of the back of your mind. Smith has shown more than flashes this week that he's not as indecisive as he has been and his arm is as strong as ever. But he's so far behind because of his hamstring injury that offensive coordinator Bob Bratkowski sees his best shot only getting as far as No. 2 at the moment.
The Mel Kiper Jr. Safety Show No one ripped the Bengals when they picked Washington State free safety Lamont Thompson (No. 24) in the second round and Florida strong safety Marquand Manuel (No. 44) in the sixth round and the past week has showed why.
At 6-1, 220, you won't have a problem picking out Thompson. He has shown good, rangy speed, and nice hands in the drills, although the Bengals would like to see more of that in team action with some interceptions
"But you can tell he has excellent ball sense," said Jim Lippincott, director of football operations. "He made a play in the red zone two or three days ago where his break on the ball just made you go, 'Wow.'"
Manuel is playing third team, but he is an extremely bright guy who is picking up the scheme and is running better than the scouts said he did when they sent him falling in the draft.
"He played in the box so much in college that you really couldn't tell if he could play the ball and go after it," Lippincott said. "He's certainly done that here."
THE LEVI-ATHAN WATCH: "The Levi-athan," is first-round pick Levi Jones (No. 76). He'll work with the second offensive line Saturday, but the big question is when he'll replace Richmond Webb at left tackle on the first line. We begin to find out Saturday.
Some Bengal insiders already think the 6-5, 310-pound Jones makes them better in the running game because of his quickness and getting out front on counters and sweeps. He still has to work on his consistency and get in sync on the pass rush. He's still trying to get a grip on what style is best to shut down the corner on the rush because of a unique kick step taught him in college.