Spikes patiently waits

BY GEOFF HOBSON

GEORGETOWN, Ky. _ Defensive captain Takeo Spikes won't play this week or the week after that and he may not play the rest of the preseason with his strained right pectoral muscle.

Which is news when you have never missed one of your 64 games as the Bengals right outside linebacker because of injury.

But maybe the bigger news is that Spikes applauds middle linebacker Brian Simmons' impending contract extension with the Bengals while he waits his fate.

"God bless 'em," Spikes said here after Sunday's practice. "I say God bless, 'em."

Spikes, who is also a free agent after next season, said he figures the Bengals have no more room to sign him under this year's salary cap and that it will have to be next year before free agency starts. And he says he'll give the Bengals a shot to sign him before the gates open March 4.

"I'll definitely talk to them before it starts," Spikes said. "My

first priority is to be here and we'll see how it goes from there."

Bengals President Mike Brown said last week that if the Simmons deal does indeed get done this week, the Bengals won't be able to do a comparable contract under this year's cap. Simmons' deal figures to average in the $3.5 million range with first-year compensation in the $5-6 million area. Spikes said he would have no problem with the club if it placed the transition tag on him, probably because it comes with a $4.5 million offer.

His first priority is actually more immediate. He's looking to get back on the practice field by this Thursday.

"I'll be back by the opener. I'm not worried about that," Spikes said. "My big goal this week is to be back on the field by Thursday or Friday, but I can't have any contact. It's like a hamstring, but the good thing is it doesn't take as long as a hamstring to get better depending on how bad it is."

A magnetic resonance imaging test (MRI) Saturday revealed Spikes received a mild to moderate strain of his right pectoral muscle after his sack of Bills quarterback Drew Bledsoe in the second series of Friday night's 24-17 win over Buffalo.

"I slipped off him a little bit, so I tried to get a hand on him and pick him up," Spikes said. "I pulled hard and my arm was away from my body and all my strength came from just my arm."

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