Warrick at home

BY GEOFF HOBSON

Like the showman he is, rookie receiver Peter Warrick picked his coming out party on the night everybody came out to party at Paul Brown Stadium.

All Warrick did during the stadium opening was score his first NFL touchdown on a trick play, set up another touchdown by tricking the Bears, touch the ball seven times for a first down or touchdown four times, and start one tradition.

While smiling all the way.

This first-round pick had a night James Francis, Alfred Williams, Dan Wilkinson or Ki-Jana Carter never had in Cincinnati during the Bengals' 24-20 preseason win over Chicago.

"He's laughing all day, but he gets serious at some point. He and Dugans," said quarterback Akili Smith of Ron Dugans, Warrick's fellow Florida State receiver who also scored his first pro touchdown Saturday night.

After scoring the Bengals' first PBS touchdown with two seconds left in the first quarter on a 14-yard end around to the right coming off Smith's fake handoff up the middle, Warrick scaled the end zone wall and got lifted into the first row by the fans. He calls it, "The Paul Brown Leap."

"Did you see it? I told you what I was going to do," said Warrick to a reporter who had wondered last week what Warrick might do to celebrate. Asked if he liked the name, "The Paul Brown Pounce," instead, he shook his head.

"Leap sounds more exciting," Warrick said.

And Warrick exudes excitement. He made a hellacious inside cut to score his touchdown on a drive he kept alive earlier on third-and-two. Smith shoveled a pass to him out of the shotgun formation for a seven-yard gain. It was the Bengals' first first down in a dreadful game they trailed, 14-0, and had gained all of a dozen yards.

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"Akili got us all excited," said Warrick, recalling what Smith said in the huddle. " 'We're down by 14, but that doesn't mean nothing.' So everybody moved on from that. Once we got that first first down, the crowd got into it. We need our crowd to back us up, but I know the only way our crowd is going to back us up is if we go out and do what we did tonight."

Warrick made the play of the night on his touchdown run when he drove Chicago strong safety Tony Parrish to his knees on a simple cut.

"For real?" Warrick asked when told the defender flat fell down on the fake. "Just instinct. He was coming up fast and he was on the outside, so I just went inside him. I got a great block from (wide receiver) James Hundon."

Warrick opened the next touchdown drive making his biggest gain, a 23-yard catch on Smith's sideline dart. On their last touchdown drive, the Bengals showed how much confidence they have in their rookie when they went to him in one-on-one coverage on a fourth-and-one play-action pass from the Chicago 16. When Warrick went up in the air, cornerback Jerry Azumah climbed up his back and got called for interference, setting up Smith's three-yard touchdown pass to Dugans on the next play.

Warrick nearly got another first down on the first team's last series of the game in the third quarter when he caught a nine-yard pass over the middle on third-and-11, but lost the first down when he tried to make a lateral move. It's about the only thing coach Bruce Coslet can find wrong with his game at the moment.

"He's got to learn sometimes not to dodge that last guy, but he will," Coslet said. "He got away with that in college quite often, but last week a bunch of defensive linemen fell on his back and this week he didn't quite get the first down one time. But he's an exciting player with tremendous hands. Nice, soft, big, plucking type hands. The sky's the limit for him and he's a hard worker. He wants to do it our way and he's into it."

Warrick paused at his locker as he ripped tape off his body, rolled it into a ball and shot a basketball free throw toward a waste basket.

"I can do this, too," he told reporters.

Told he did everything Saturday night but throw a pass, Warrick smiled. He once threw a touchdown to Dugans at Florida State.

"That's coming, too," said Paul Brown Stadium's showman.

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