Updated: 6:05 p.m.
LewisAfter cutting such veterans as linebacker Ed Hartwell and safety John Busing in favor of keeping injured players, Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis told his starters on Cutdown Day that they will have to play more special teams in the Sept. 10 regular season opener against the Ravens.
Other casualties of the NFL's cut to 53 were running back Chris Perry, sent to the physically unable to perform list (PUP) for the second straight year, and backup quarterback Doug Johnson, sent packing when the Bengals traded what is believed to be a seventh-rounder to the Rams for third-year quarterback Ryan Fitzpartick.
Because of their injury situation in the secondary, the Bengals were forced to keep 11 defensive backs and just six linebackers and eight defensive linemen, although Lewis said that was his number all along on the front line.
Lewis hinted that Hartwell could return after the opener, when the injury picture could clear up and the Bengals wouldn't be on the hook for his entire salary.
Eight of the players cut Saturday figure to be back here Sunday if they clear waivers and sign to the practice squad. Busing is a leading candidate, as is fullback Chris Manderino, tight end Tim Day, wide receiver Bennie Brazell, guard Nate Livings and rookies Matt Toeaina, a defensive tackle, Matt Muncy, a linebacker, and tackle Dane Uperesa.
Cornerbacks Ethan Kilmer and Blue Adams, core special teamers, made it even though Kilmer is three days removed from arthroscopic knee surgery and might not be able to play until after the Oct. 8 bye and Adams (neck) made his first appearance in a practice or game this preseason less than 24 hours before against the Colts.
Kilmer, wide receiver Antonio Chatman (hamstring), and linebacker Rashad Jeanty (leg) are all but down for Sept. 10, Lewis said. But he said he feels confident that if they don't come back at the bye week, they will before.
Chatman, a five-year veteran who was in the same boat as Brazell and actually had played less with his own hamstring problem, got the nod as the sixth receiver because of his experience.
"I didn't see a lot from Bennie ," Lewis said, "and neither did you in games."
Brazell, the Olympic hurdler, spent all last season, his rookie year, on injured reserve with a torn posterior cruciate knee ligament. He got moved out by two special teamers in Skyler Green and Glenn Holt, the fourth and fifth receivers.
Lewis said he feels that Green has made the team better in punt return and even though Holt hasn't played in preseason games with a hamstring problem of his own, Lewis said he'll get a good look to prove he can return to being the primary kickoff returner like he was late last season.
"Where we are injury-wise right now for 45 guys against Baltimore, our guys are going to do more," Lewis said. "It's going to be very similar I think to back when Coach (Jimmy) Johnson was coaching the Cowboys. Those starting players were invaluable on special teams as well in a bigger percentage and I think that's where we are.
"I talked to our guys about that today. It's not going to be like you remember last year or the year before. Because right now we have to step it up and amp it up with you. You're a better player so that's going to make us better in that area as well."
Lewis said Shayne Graham is progressing with his hip pointer, but they may still bring in another kicker just in case.
What about former University of Cincinnati kicker Kevin Lovell? In resting Jeff Wilkins in St. Louis, Lovell went 5-for-5 in the preseason, kicked a game winner in the opener and is expected to be on the wire.
More evidence the Bengals went special teams: They kept a third tight end, Nate Lawrie, instead of a second fullback, and it's not because with the Fitzpatrick trade they wanted to have a guy from Harvard (Fitzpatrick) and a guy from Yale (Lawrie) on the roster.
Rookie tight end Daniel Coats has also impressed on special teams.
"Our coaches like where we are with our tight ends," Lewis said.
HartwellAlso, more evidence that Lewis would like Hartwell back at some point. He knows that Hartwell really grinded it in training camp after injuries wiped out the last two seasons.
Plus, Lewis said six is a little light at backer and he'd like to look at getting one or two more when injuries permit.
"You've got guys that play when they're a little winged, bruised, and there are other guys that have minor things and are not willing to put their neck out there. And they've got to go, frankly," Lewis said.
"You feel for a guy like Eddie in this case. Who probably could have taken more time off, but knows he's out there battling, and whether it's here next week ,later, or somewhere else, you have to take that into consideration when you look at Ed Hartwell. Here's a guy that didn't miss practice, didn't miss the games. That's big when you're looking to catch on with a team. A lot of us as coaches are looking for someone who is reliable."
JonesLewis also responded to left tackle Levi Jones' complaint to the media that he isn't getting enough practice time to get ready for the opener now that he's been back from knee rehab for two weeks.
"Levi understated how much he practiced by maybe a third," Lewis said. "It concerns me that it's not about you, Levi, it's about the football team and he knows that and realizes that. I don't want the guys to vent their frustration to you and I'm not going to vent my frustration to you."
Asked if Jones will start against Baltimore, Lewis said, "I don't have to make that determination now to you."
ALL MOVES: The Bengals today made the following moves in reaching the NFL roster limit of 53 and here is the press release:
Traded an undisclosed conditional 2008 draft choice to the St. Louis Rams for QB Ryan Fitzpatrick, a third-year NFL player. Fitzpatrick (6-2, 225; Harvard) was a seventh-round Rams draft choice in 2005. He is in the final year of a three-year deal.
He played in four games with three starts in 2005, and played in one game last season. His career passing statistics are 76-for-135 (56.0%) for 777 yards with four TDs and eight INTs. He played in three of the Rams four preseason games (DNP in Game 2), passing 28-for-44 (63.6%) for 249 yards with one TD and two INTs.
At Houston in 2005, Fitzpatrick became the fifth player in NFL history to pass for 300 yards in a debut. He earned NFC Offensive Player of the Week honors, coming off the bench to pass for 310 in leading a 33-27 overtime victory.
Terminated the contracts of three veterans not subject to waivers, releasing them to free agency:
- DT Kenderick Allen
LB Edgerton Hartwell
-QB Doug Johnson
Waived four second-year players:
- WR Bennie Brazell of Louisiana State
S John Busing of Miami (Ohio)
WR Reggie McNeal of Texas A&M
OT Alan Reuber of Texas A&M
Waived three first-year players:
- TE Tim Day of Oregon
G Nate Livings of Louisiana State
FB Chris Manderino of California
Waived eight rookies:
- HB Curtis Brown of Brigham Young
LB Earl Everett of Florida
WR Jesse Holley of North Carolina
DE Xzavie Jackson of Missouri
LB Matt Muncy of Ohio
G Harrison Nikolao of Eastern Washington
DT Matt Toeaina of Oregon
OT Dane Uperesa of Hawaii
(Toeaina was a sixth-round Bengals choice in the 2007 draft, and the other seven waived rookies entered the NFL this year as college free agents.)
Issued waivers (injured) on three players:
- K Aaron Elling (fourth year; Wyoming)
CB Brandon Williams (first year; Michigan)
CB T.J. Wright (college free agent; Ohio)
(If any of the three clear waivers with no injury settlement, they will revert to Cincinnati�fs Reserve/Injured list for continued rehabilitation.)
Placed fourth-year HB Chris Perry of Michigan on the Reserve/Physically Unable to Perform list. Perry has not been cleared for practice in 2007, due to rehab from a dislocated ankle suffered last season. Perry will remain with the team for rehab and meetings, but may not practice. Beginning the week following Week 6 NFL play, he will be eligible to return to practice under a roster exemption. Upon returning to practice, he may work during a 21-day period, the end of which serves as a deadline for his non-exempt roster status to be determined.
Moved third-year WR Chris Henry of West Virginia to the Reserve/Suspended by Commissioner list. It had previously been announced that Henry would be suspended for the first eight regular season games, for violation of NFL policies.
PRACTICE SQUAD NOTE:All the players waived today (not including waived-injured) are eligible to be signed tomorrow to an NFL practice squad. The Bengals plan to announce tomorrow a practice squad of up to eight players.