Updated: 7 p.m.
On the heels of *The Cincinnati Enquirer's *report that the Bengals are interested in former defensive tackle Shaun Smith, Smith confirmed Tuesday that he had a tryout in Cincinnati and is waiting to hear if the team is interested enough to add him for his second stint with the team. ProFootballTalk.com is reporting they'll sign him Wednesday.
Dubbed "The Mouth of the South" by Bengals quarterback Carson Palmer, Smith played two-and-a-half seasons in Cincinnati before the club opted not to match Cleveland's four-year, $8.6 million offer after the 2006 season. The Browns and Lions released him in this past preseason and he surfaced for the last two games in the UFL and played in the title game for Las Vegas.
The visit and potential signing shows how concerned the Bengals are about their depth up front following Monday's arthroscopic knee surgery on tackle Domata Peko and tackle Tank Johnson coming back into Sunday's game despite a back injury. It sounds like Johnson can play Sunday in Minnesota, but he's also been battling plantar fasciitis all year. The club hopes Peko can get back in time for the Jan. 3 regular-season finale against the Jets.
With the Bengals gearing for a stretch run that includes two cold weather games to finish the season (at home against Kansas City Dec. 27 and at the Jets Jan. 3), plus a potential home game to open the playoffs Jan. 9 or 10, they know they'll have to run the ball and stop the run and they are looking for big bodies.
The 6-2, 325-pound Smith showed he could stop the run in his 29 games with the Bengals in a backup role, but they didn't think it was worth what the Browns offered. A gregarious and outgoing sort, he's known for his endless stream of chatter that played a part in his scuffle with Browns quarterback Brady Quinn in a weight room incident, and his incessant riding of the Bengals on and off the field whenever the two teams met.
"It was never personal. It was just about joking and having a good time," Smith said. "I never wanted to leave there. I liked the people there and I still kept talking to guys like Chad (Ochocinco), T.J. (Houshmandzadeh), Frostee (Rucker), Domata."
Smith said the confrontation with Quinn is so in the past that he says he and the quarterback text and talk and "I get along with Brady."
Smith, 28, made 19 starts for the Browns in '07 and '08 and he was suspended for four games this preseason for using a banned substance. Smith said he had purchased a product over-the-counter and was surprised that it contained anything that could get him suspended.
"I don't even like to take Advil," he said.
If the Bengals do decide to sign him, Smith says he's ready. He said the experience in the UFL was worthwhile.
"I thought it was pretty close to the NFL," Smith said. "There were guys who are good enough to be in the league but aren't because they either have problems, or got hurt or were on a team that didn't have a spot."