Takeo Spiked in May

4-27-01, 10:45 p.m.

BY GEOFF HOBSON

Bengals defensive captain Takeo Spikes won't be able to participate in any of the Bengals' workouts next month as he recovers from arthroscopic shoulder surgery.

And it's killing him.

Spikes may have racked up the third most tackles ever in a season by a Bengal (128) last year from his weak-side linebacker spot. But he doesn't feel like he totally did his job off the field in 2000 and he thinks the players are running out of excuses.

"It's going to be hard. I feel like I need to be out there to get the attention of the guys," Spikes said Friday from Atlanta. "I like leading by example. Being able to be sweating with the guys in the huddle. I guess I can stick my head in there once in awhile, but it's not the same.

"My main goal is for all of us to get this team chemistry going," Spikes said. "That's the only way you can be good. I guess it wasn't close enough last year. I don't think I did my job as a leader because we didn't win."

Trainer Paul Sparling said Friday Spikes won't be able to work in next weekend's minicamp, or the following four weeks of voluntary veteran workouts at Paul Brown Stadium.

Spikes won't be able to

do rotator cuff strengthening exercises and intense weight training until June 1, the week after the Bengals close shop until the July 20 start of training camp.

"He'll have no problem being ready by then," Sparling said. "He could have played with what he had, but there was plenty of time and he feels this is going to make a significant difference."

What Spikes had was a small cartilage tear in his left shoulder. So doctors executed what Sparling calls "a thermal shrinkage of the capsule to tighten the joint and improve the sensation of stability."

But Spikes is upbeat after an offseason of getting away from a 4-12 year that began with so much hope with a team meeting called by Spikes and offensive captain Willie Anderson.

"I've been rehabbing with (NFL playoff veteran) Bryan Cox and he told me, 'Spikes, it can't be just one guy,"' Spikes said. "He said you're only as good as your team and your team is only as good as you.

"I'd like to see us spend more time together," Spikes said. "I don't know why you've got to just take off after practice. Why not stay around a little bit and hang out with each other? Anything to make this work."

Spikes and fellow linebacker Brian Simmons talked recently and agreed if they suffer their fourth straight losing season since coming into the NFL via the 1998 first round, the players may have to take the brunt of the responsibility.

"We can't keep complaining about what we don't have," Spikes said. "We have to play with what we have. We have to strap it up. I think (head coach) Dick LeBeau has done a decent job at putting us in position to win."

Spikes lobbied for help at cornerback before free agency, but he said he believes in his teammates. Such as left tackle Rod Jones.

"I would think this has probably been a wake-up call for Rod because of the way they keep looking for another left tackle," Spikes said. "I'm 100 percent behind him. I know he can do the job. Hell, I know he can do it because I saw him do it two years ago."

Spikes may not be on the field. But he wants to make sure he'll be a big part of the next month.

"I'm trying to find a way," Spikes said.

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