9-5-04, 3:20 p.m.
BY GEOFF HOBSON
The Bengals got down to the final 53 Sunday by waiving 12 players.
Veteran defensive tackle Glen Steele (1998) and safety Marquand Manuel (2002) were both draft picks from previous regimes. Defensive end Elton Paterson, a seventh-rounder out of Central Florida from 2003, is the first draft choice under Lewis to be released, meaning that 17 of the 53 players were selected in the last two drafts.
Other veterans released were offensive lineman Alex Sulfsted, tight end James Whalen, and defensive lineman Greg Scott. Along with Jamall Broussard, the speedy wideout from San Jose State, the Bengals also released rookie free agents Alex Wade, a fullback from Duke, and Larry Stevens, an outside linebacker from Michigan, and linebacker Allen Augustin out of Florida State, a waiver claim from earlier in the week.
A pair of first-year free agents, tackle Pete Lougheed and wide receiver Adam Ziesel, also were cut.
Up to eight of these names could appear on the practice squad that gets formed Monday by players who clear waivers.
Former Bengals linebacker Adrian Ross said he was cut Sunday by the Steelers, and he could be a possible addition, since the Bengals have three linebackers on season-ending injured reserve. Ross, coming back from reconstructive knee surgery, said his knee is fine after playing in all four pre-season games, and he thinks he was cut for financial reasons.
"I don't think the coaches had anything to do with it," said Ross, who is waiting to see if the Bengals are interested.
Finances could also hurt the Bengals in that department since they have seven players on injured reserve.
The roster, with years of experience: **
3 QUARTERBACKS:** Carson Palmer (2), Jon Kitna (8), Casey Bramlet (R).
Palmer becomes the 25th man to start at quarterback for the Bengals next week and the sixth different Opening Day quarterback in the past eight years. Kitna is 1-1 in his Bengal openers. **
5 RUNNING BACKS:** Rudi Johnson (4), Kenny Watson (3), Chris Perry (R), FB Jeremi Johnson (2), FB James Lynch (1).
Keeping two fullbacks and one less offensive lineman is a mild surprise. But Lynch played hard and well, and even though he's not the athlete that Jeremi Johnson is, he can play special teams and he knows who to block. Although Johnson looked good in his first game back from an injured groin Friday night, he still needs to get some football legs.
3 TIGHT ENDS:** Reggie Kelly (6), Tony Stewart (4), Matt Schobel (3).
This looks to be a gesture of faith in Schobel's ability at making a big play in the passing game. He's played just one game because of his chronic hamstring problems, while Whalen played in three games despite coming back from artroscopic knee surgery early in camp.
But Schobel has a track record making catches. Note last year's grab to beat Pittsburgh on the last play and the 45-yard TD that brought them back from a 7-0 hole, (not to mention 1-4 record) in the win over Baltimore. **
6 WIDE RECEIVERS:** Chad Johnson (4), Peter Warrick (5), T.J. Houshmandzadeh (4), Kelley Washington (2), Kevin Walter (2), Maurice Mann (R).
Broussard did some exciting things, but one of them included a fumble on his 16-yard punt return Friday night that set up the winning points. Once he refines his receiving skills, he should be ready, but Walter and Mann just give them more options on special teams. **
9 OFFENSIVE LINEMEN:** Rich Braham (11), Willie Anderson (9), Bobbie Williams (5), Levi Jones (3), Eric Steinbach (2), Larry Moore (7), Victor Leyva (4), Scott Kooistra (2), Stacy Andrews (R).
Usually the Bengals like to keep 10, especially with how much they are hurting there. But the release of Sulfsted and Lougheed indicates that the knees of Braham and Kooistra must be looking good in preparation for next Sunday. **
8 DEFENSIVE LINEMEN:** Duane Clemons (9), Tony Williams (8), John Thornton (6), Justin Smith (4), Carl Powell (6), Langston Moore (1), Matthias Askew (R), Robert Geathers (R).
Steele's age and salary probably didn't help, but the decision was made easier when Moore played well in the preseason and figures to be heavy in that tackle rotation with Powell while Askew learns, probably by being spotted here and there early in the season. **
6 LINEBACKERS:** Kevin Hardy (9), Brian Simmons (7), Nate Webster (5), Marcus Wilkins (3), Caleb Miller (R), Landon Johnson (R).
That will teach Augustin to make an interception less than 48 hours before cuts. The Ross release in Pittsburgh could have an impact here. The Bengals like the fact Wilkins made plays for Green Bay on special teams. **
10 DEFENSIVE BACKS:** CB Tory James (9), CB Deltha O'Neal (5), S Kim Herring (8), S Rogers Beckett (5), S-CB Madieu Williams (R), S-CB Kevin Kaesviharn (4), CB Terrell Roberts (2), CB Reggie Myles (3), CB Keiwan Ratliff (R), CB Greg Brooks (R).
Versatility is what got Manuel. Williams, who could still end up starting at safety at some point after starting the last three pre-season games at corner in place of O'Neal, can play both. As can Kaesviharn. And Roberts could do it if he had to, too. When was the last time they had seven corners good enough to keep? **
3 SPECIALISTS:** K Shayne Graham (4), P Kyle Larson (R), LS Brad St. Louis (5).
Shayno-matic hasn't missed since he became a millionaire. Larson saved himself with solid work in the last six quarters.