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Wait watchers

Posted: 6 p.m.



The first signs of fall have begun to emerge with the fifth and final 52-foot flatbed semi lined up outside Paul Brown Stadium idling for Tuesday's 8 a.m. departure to Kentucky and Georgetown College.

But middle linebacker Odell Thurman isn't part of training camp's traveling party yet with the NFL still mum on his appeal to be reinstated at the end of business Monday.

Safarrah Lawson, one of Thurman's representatives, said he hadn't heard anything yet from the league and couldn't say for sure if the Michael Vick situation has delayed a decision concerning his client.

Also by the close of business Monday the Bengals had yet to sign one of their seven draft picks with hangups seemingly based more around language than money. But various agents for the second-day picks, which range from fourth-rounder Marvin White to the second of two seventh-rounders, Chinedum Ndukwe, indicated they didn't anticipate holding their clients out of camp when it begins later this week.

Players must report by 3 p.m. Thursday with the first practice scheduled 24 hours later.

"There are minor issues. It's language. I don't like to hold my guys out. But these are minor issues," said Kevin Conner, White's agent. "I'm confident we'll get a deal done in time for Thursday."

Conner acknowledged there is some pressure on the agent that steps out first to make a deal with a team.

"But I'm sure all teams want to maintain as close as they can to the same type of structure for each pick," Conner said. "They've been professional about it and we'll keep working."

Agents didn't want to get into specifics, but language can cover everything from what triggers escalators to the impact of injury on pay. The negotiations for fifth-round pick Jeff Rowe are probably a little bit more involved because he's a quarterback. He's represented by Octagon, the firm based in Walnut Creek, Calif., that also represents Bengals first rounder Leon Hall.

The agents for Hall aren't saying much and second-rounder Kenny Irons' rep, Fletcher Smith, has declined comment. But those negotiations are expected to ramp up as the other deals come in and only a handful of deals were done in each of the top two rounds at the close of business Monday.

One thing that is done is the Bengals' packing.

Equipment managers Rob Recker and Jeff Brickner, with help from veteran Bill Dinger and Xavier University student Chad Sensibaugh, have already overseen the loading and transport of four semis. For a long-timer like Recker who viewed the early '90s as a student trainer, the change is supersonic. Back in those days, Recker remembers equipment manager Tom Gray using one semi and one box truck to transport the entire operation to Wilmington College.

"Back then, we'd load the semi two-thirds and then the last thing they would put on would be the five-man sled," Recker said. "Then they'd put in all the other stuff around it. Now, we've got four semis with just field equipment. There is just so much more stuff."

Forget a five-man sled. There are at least five more sleds. There are two video towers, three jugs machines, cones, chutes, rope ladders, tires, you name it. And that doesn't even count strength coaches Chip Morton and Ray Oliver moving equipment from the weight and aerobic rooms and video vicars Travis Brammer and Kent Stearman hauling cameras, tapes and computers.

The fifth and final semi leaves Tuesday morning with the footballs, uniforms, shoulder pads, helmets, gloves, shoes and shelving. The Last Truck Out leaves at noon, a boxed truck with coaches' luggage only: Clothes, tapes, playbooks, and the like. But then again in 1990 there were 10 assistant coaches instead of 16.

"It's all good," Recker said. "The idea is to make it just like we were here."

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