W. Anderson-Pickens-Gibson-Yeast-Morgan

By GEOFF HOBSON

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Anderson keeping low profile

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Nothing personal, but right tackle Willie Anderson figures he'll stay home in Atlanta while his contract negotiations continue. He's pleased with the recent turn in the talks, but he thinks things will go smoother if he doesn't venture to Spinney Field.

"If there happens to be a bad day of negotiating, I don't want to say something out of frustration to a teammate or the media," Anderson said today. "I don't want the front office to get the wrong idea, or them thinking I'm mad about something. I'd feel a little funny. Negotiations are emotional. There can be moods. Like last Friday, I was disappointed. It didn't sound like they could sign me. Then Monday morning they called again, which really surprised me, and it was great. So I'm trying to stay out of it and stay positive."

Anderson won't specifically say what the difference was between Friday and Monday, but suffice to say the Bengals most likely raised their offer for a six-year extension. Anderson said he's encouraged by how aggressively the Bengals are pursuing him and hopes it could be just a matter of time before, "we find some common ground." That sounds like the ground they are treading is the hallowed turf belonging to money in the first year.

"At first glance, (the new offer) looks great if you don't know much about contracts," Anderson said. "There are some big numbers. But the structure has to be right. When I get it and how much. They're talking about giving me a lot of money and they want something in return and I'm giving up free agency, so we want something back. And they're listening to us and we're listening to them, so I think we're at least on the same page."

Anderson said he's impressed with how hard Bengals vice president Katie Blackburn is listening.

"I've been there (four years), so I had heard the stories about how tough negotiations are," Anderson said. "But Katie's been very nice. I had only talked to her for a minute before this, but she invited me into the negotiations and she's tried hard to come up with numbers that I might get next year (in free agency). I know a lot of my teammates are watching this to see if the 'new Bengals,' are going to keep one of their own."

The last time the Bengals had this many key players headed to free agency, they signed two of three to five-year deals in defensive end John Copeland and wide receiver Darnay Scott and traded Dan Wilkinson for what turned out to be a defensive leader in linebacker Brian Simmons. Marvin Demoff, the agent for Pro Bowl running back Corey Dillon, said today there is no change in his stalemated negotiations. But the Bengals are keeping salary cap room open in hoping they can re-up both Anderson and Dillon.

Terry Bolar, Anderson's agent, said he plans to call Blackburn Wednesday.

Meanwhile, the Bengals have set up Anderson with an Atlanta therapist to rehab tendinitis in his left ankle. And Anderson, an avid NBA fan, revealed he'll take $42 million to play power forward and be a coaching consultant for the Atlanta Hawks.

"In the post I'm good for 15 points and 12 rebounds a game," Anderson said. "I don't see anybody beating Shaq and the Lakers (in the playoffs). They've got the Zenmaster."

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PICKENS DEAL NEAR?

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The Carl Pickens situation could be resolved soon. The Bengals' depositions in the NFL Players Association grievance regarding the club's franchise tag have been postponed with no new date given. Sources have been saying the club could regain the tag if they release Pickens. The Bengals have tried to see what's on the trading block for him by taking the temperature of teams with room under the salary cap, but have found no takers for Pickens' $3 million salary next year.

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GIBSON INJURED:

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Nose tackle Oliver Gibson tore ligaments in his left thumb today when he caught his hand on another player's jersey during the voluntary workout. Trainer Paul Sparling said surgery is a remote possibility and that he'll wear a cast whether he gets the operation or not for a few weeks. But it looks like Gibson can still work and Sparling said it most likely won't be an issue by the time training camp opens July 21.

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THIS AND THAT:

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  • Wide receiver Craig Yeast is getting checked for a possible ulcerCollege free agent punter Tim Morgan was waived.
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