Spikes returns

10-18-01, 10:05 p.m.

BY GEOFF HOBSON

If you thought last week was an emotional game for the Bengals without Takeo Spikes, wait for this one with him on the home turf of Paul Brown Stadium.

"It's going to be emotional, man, it's going to be emotional," Spikes said Thursday before practice.

In his first day back at work since the death of his father last week, Spikes recalled the surge of emotion that jolted him when he arrived at the church for Tuesday's funeral in Sandersville, Ga..

There were teammates Brian Simmons, Adrian Ross and Reinard Wilson. There were big baskets of flowers from the offensive line, the defensive line, the coaches, the club. Head coach Dick LeBeau's pitch that a team is an extended family hit him flush.

"It was heart-to-heart," said Spikes when asked if Jimmie Spikes' death had brought his son's team closer. "They felt my pain."

Spikes admitted it was tough now that Jimmie Spikes would never again see him play. But maybe easier, too, since his father couldn't see, much less comprehend, any of the games the Bengals played

this season. While the Bengals went 3-2 to open the season, Jimmie Spikes fought brain cancer opening his eyes once, maybe twice, a week. For a guy who remembered his father as a proud, hard-working southern African-American, that was the hardest part for Takeo Spikes. Back at work Thursday, his son mentioned the movie, "Men of Honor."

"How hard Cuba Gooding Jr.'s father worked to support him, that's how I think about my father," Spikes said.

Spikes put integrity at the top, but he didn't want to start listing what his father taught him.

"I don't want to short change him," Spikes said. "He taught me everything about being a man."

Ross, the man who replaced Spikes last Sunday in the lineup, said it had been a normal day for the linebackers. The game ball from last Sunday wasn't presented. Only a game plan. There had been no pre-, middle- or post-practice huddle. Just practice.

"He's handled it well all the way through," Ross said. "Yeah, pretty much. Business as usual. He went to work."

Which no doubt would have pleased Jimmie Spikes.

THURSDAY'S ROUNDUP: Defensive tackle Jeff Boyle, a rookie free agent from Wyoming on the practice squad, is out for the season and possibly longer after associate team doctor Angelo Colosimo confirmed he tore the anterior cruciate and lateral collateral ligaments in his knee.

Trainer Paul Sparling said the injury occurred on a non-contact play

in Thursday's practice in which Boyle made a cut. . .

Ts Willie Anderson and Richmond Webb, along with WR Peter Warrick, TE Marco Battaglia, and DE Vaughn Booker returned to practice after resting various bumps and bruises. . .LS Brad St. Louis didn't dress in order to rest his pulled abdomen, but he did get in some snaps with punter/holder Nick Harris. . .

The Bengals didn't sell out Sunday's game against the Bears in time to lift the local television blackout, but they have a chance at setting the Paul Brown Stadium's two-game attendance record. That stands at 125,541, which was last year's inaugural game (64.006) in the stadium followed by the 61,535 that saw Dick LeBeau make his head coaching debut against Miami. The Bengals are coming off a record 64,217 last week in the win over Cleveland.

Sparling projects cornerback Rodney Heath's rehab at about six months, which means if there are no complications he should be ready for minicamp. Dr. Bill Garrett of the University of North Carolina is to surgically repair Heath's completely torn hamstring any day in Chapel Hill.

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