By GEOFF HOBSON
The Bengals want first-round draft choice Peter Warrick to focus on finishing his community service with the state of Florida and don't expect him at Spinney Field until June 5.
Warrick, the Florida State wide receiver who was the leading Heisman Trophy candidate until he ran afoul of the law, intended to join the rest of the Bengals' draft picks Tuesday for informal workouts in preparation for the June 13-15 voluntary camp. But with Warrick still needing to fulfill 20 of his 30 days left on the sentence stemming from his guilty plea for petty theft, the club has told him to get 15 days in the bank before returning in three weeks.
"That's his obligation, and I want him to get that done and behind him," coach Bruce Coslet said today. "His priority is to clean his slate. That should be his priority and it is. When he gets up here, I want him to be ready to go to work without that hanging over his head."
Quarterback Akili Smith was hampered at the outset of his rookie year last season when he couldn't start working with the Bengals until June 16, the day after his class graduated at the University of Oregon. But because the club sees Warrick as a starter, Coslet isn't going to compare their situations.
"It's easier to catch up any position but quarterback," Coslet said. "But we weren't looking for Akili to necessarily be the starter. We're counting on Pete to start. It was all different."
The community service consists of picking up trash 10 hours a day, so the club just wants him to get it behind him. When he leaves Cincinnati after the June camp, the Bengals think he'll be able to complete the sentence before the July 21 start of training camp. They even thought about sending Smith to Tallahassee, Fla., with offensive coordinator Ken Anderson and wide receivers coach Steve Mooshagian to work with him for a few days.
"But I want him to perform his community service," Coslet said. "It's 10 hours a day, so when are we going to have time to throw to him? If he could take a day off, then he could be up here. So let's just get it done, fulfill his obligation to the court and start with a clean slate."
It may be a clean slate, but rookie receivers like Seminoles teammate Ron Dugans get to write on it first. Still, Mooshagian doesn't think it's a major setback.
"We can catch him up. We're not installing anything new," Mooshagian said. "Akili's going to throw routes to the rookies, stuff they've already run. The only negative is the timing with Akili. By the June camp, he'll be caught up where the veterans were when they left the May camp last Thursday."
The Bengals are high on this rookie class of receivers, and not just Warrick and Dugans. Coslet thinks, "one of our free agents is going to make the team and maybe two if you count the developmental squad."
Those free-agents should be here Tuesday, among them Louisville's LaVell Boyd, C.W. Post's Eddie Hardaway, Wake Forest's Marvin Chalmers, and Arizona State's Tariq McDonald.