BY GEOFF HOBSON
With injuries to backup linebackers Adrian Ross and Canute Curtis, middle linebacker Brian Simmons' disappointing season ended Thursday when the Bengals put him on injured reserve.
The injuries forced the club to activate linebacker Marc Megna from the practice squad for Sunday's game against the Cowboys.
Simmons, a first-round pick in 1998 who was the club's leading tackler last season, hasn't played since the Sept. 10 opener after tearing cartilage off the bone in his right knee.
"I don't like it, but I guess they had to do it," Simmons said. "With Adrian and Canute hurt, they needed linebackers. I think they were feeling I'd be back for only the last three or four games and they were probably wondering what would be the point. It's a tough year. Now the thing is to get it healthy and have the kind of year I was going to this year next year."
Rookie free agent Armegis Spearman has held up well in Simmons' place, but he has been spelled at times by Ross. Ross practiced Thursday and is probable with an ankle sprain and Curtis isn't sure he can play with a cast on his broken hand.
Simmons plans to return to his North Carolina home to continue his rehab.
Meanwhile, the 6-2, 245-pound Megna is activated for the first time in his Bengals' career. A sixth-round pick of the Jets in 1999, he spent five weeks on the Patriots' active roster before the Bengals picked him off waivers Sept. 23.
Megna, a Fall River, Mass., product who had 27 sacks during his last two years at Richmond, played 10 games for Barcelona in NFL Europe this past season. He'll play mainly on special teams this Sunday.