Smith, Brewer in limbo

8-21-01, 8:45 p.m.

Updated: 8-22-01, 9:50 a.m.

BY GEOFF HOBSON

GEORGETOWN, Ky. _ Quarterback Akili Smith and rookie tight end Sean Brewer passed their medical tests Tuesday, but their playing status is still up in the air.

A magnetic resonance imaging test (MRI) on Smith's throwing arm showed nothing new, but he continues to have a mild case of tendinitis and is questionable for Saturday's game against Buffalo.

"I've got to get out there and get some snaps in no matter what because I need to play in the game," said Smith Tuesday night on his return from Paul Brown Stadium. "It's already Wednesday, so I'm going to have to try and at least do seven-on-seven and see how it feels."

Brewer remained a candidate for season-ending injured reserve even though a visit to a Philadelphia specialist revealed he doesn't have a sports hernia. But he does have a muscle strain in

 the groin/abdomen area that will shelve him for four to six more weeks.

Brewer, a third-round pick, was upbeat Monday after cutting and planting on the injury for the first time since not working since Aug. 1. But Jim Lippincott, Bengals' director of pro/college personnel, said Brewer is being considered for the IR list.

"There were some movements where he grimaced in pain and others where it caught him," Lippincott said. "There's no doubt the kid would play through it if you asked him to. But we have to ask how good are we with an injured tight end?"

Smith hasn't thrown since the Aug. 10 win in Detroit, when he took a hit at some point on the shoulder. Bengals trainer Paul Sparling said the MRI didn't reveal anything different than the one Smith took back in May when he had a tired arm.

"It's still just a mild case of tendinitis and he's day-to-day," Sparling said.

INJURY UPDATE: WR T.J. Houshmandzadeh (foot) is doubtful for Saturday's game. MLB Brian Simmons (shoulder) is questionable. OLB Armegis Spearman (ankle) is probable. So is CB Artrell Hawkins, who has missed the last two days with a virus.

Also probable are CB Mark Roman (chest) and DE Kevin Henry (hamstring). Roman dropped a weight on his chest in Tuesday morning lifting, not because the bar was too heavy but because he misjudged putting it back on the rack.

**

THIS AND THAT:** Chunky's Campbell Soup is to donate about 90 cases of cans to the Cincinnati Free Store after left tackle Richmond Webb tipped the big soup spoon at 30 cases. In real people weight, that's about 325 pounds. So Webb has done what seven-time Pro Bowlers do and got his weight down when the bell rings. Webb reported at about 340 and needed to drop 15. . .

Defensive tackle Oliver Gibson and left guard Matt O'Dwyer, frequent practice combatants, have been relatively quiet this camp. But not Tuesday, when they got into a heated vocal exchange after a pass play.

Other players kept them apart while the shouting continued. Gibson apparently felt like O'Dwyer went after his knees.

LEBEAU SEEKS CRISPNESS: Head coach Dick LeBeau, who gave the team three days off this past weekend, wants the execution to be sharper. But he primarily gave them three days off so there would be some legs in November and December and not for short-term reasons, although he did want better execution in Wednesday's practice.

"It showed some faith and they've complied with

that faith," LeBeau said after Tuesday's practice of the break. "They all got back here and did good a job with it. Monday we looked like a team that hadn't been on the field for three days.

"Today we looked like a team that hadn't been on the field for a day and half, so we're cutting that down and I expect tomorrow to be excellent," LeBeau said. "We had very good tempo today and I thought it was a good practice. We just need to get that rustiness out. One of the factors for the weekend is that the season is a long haul."

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