Simmons feels confident

2-20-2001 BY GEOFF HOBSON

Bengals middle linebacker Brian Simmons, who missed all but 45 minutes of the 2000 season, expects to line up for the May 4 minicamp.

But whether he can rip off the 4.5-second, 40-yard dash that makes him one of the best young linebackers in the NFL is another question.

He thinks he can, but. . .

"I guess you don't know until you actually do it, but it feels good," said Simmons, who gets his knee examined Wednesday. "Speed is my biggest asset, so you know I'm going to do whatever I can to get it back. I've got two months and I need all of it to get to where I want to be."

After a helmet caught Simmons' knee in Cincinnati's Sept. 10 opening game, Bengals doctor Rob Heidt Jr., re-attached the lateral meniscus cartilage that was torn off the bone.

Since there's no ligament damage, all parties expect little, if any, complications.

"All signs are pointing to it healing pretty good," Simmons said. "I don't have any swelling or pain and I think my (off-season) workouts are right where they would be even if I hadn't been hurt."

For example, Simmons is sprinting, but not for that 4.5-second 40 just yet. He's running a series of 110-yarders "for conditioning and endurance."

**

NFL CAN REVIEW RULING: ** The Bengals aren't commenting on the NFL's ability to review running back Corey Dillon's stipulation of continuance in a Federal Way, Wash., court last month. But the consensus is the Pro Bowler will most likely only get a fine and not a suspension if the league even decides to dole out a sanction.

CBS Sportsline reported Tuesday night that the NFL is expected to review the agreement reached in court that stems from the charge of fourth-degree assault against Dillon last August in an incident involving his wife.

Last month, Dillon agreed to pay a woman's shelter $250 and undergo counseling in exchange for a chance at having his record expunged next year.

Those close to Dillon felt the stipulation didn't expose him to league sanctions because there was no admission of guilt.

But according to the NFL personal conduct policy, a player can be sanctioned if he agrees to a diversionary program.

But it seems doubtful the league would levy any kind of suspension, given Dillon and his wife reconciled shortly after the incident and the case was driven by prosecutors and not her.

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