8-11-03, 9:45 a.m. Updated:
8-11-03, 7:10 p.m.
BY GEOFF HOBSON
GEORGETOWN, Ky. _ The Bengals got the best of news on Kelley Washington Monday when his agent said the rookie wide receiver has been cleared to play by a Dallas doctor.
Glenn Rosenberg said Washington is going to be in training camp Tuesday morning when the Bengals return to practice for the first time since Sunday's 28-13 loss to the Jets in their pre-season opener. Washington had made the trip to New Jersey Saturday, but the third-rounder from Tennessee missed his NFL debut when he suddenly left to get a second opinion on his neck.
Rosenberg said the doctor who did the examination is the one whom performed the Nov. 19, 2002 surgery to fuse two vertebrae in his neck. The Bengals had cleared Washington to play, but he apparently wanted to be sure of things before he played in his first game since suffering a concussion Oct. 12 against Georgia.
"He's fine. He feels good. He's ready to put everything behind him and just start thinking about football," Rosenberg said.
The 6-3, 216-pound Washington became the last Bengals' holdout to sign last weekend, but he had impressed quickly with his leaping ability and presence. Before he got hurt last season, he averaged 19.3 yards per his 23 catches in four games last season for Tennessee. In 13 games as a freshman for the Volunteers, he averaged 15.4 yards per his 70 catches.
The Bengals see Washington eventually moving to a starting role on the outside and sliding Peter Warrick to pretty much exclusively the slot. With Washington gone and three other receivers hurt, the Bengals had some inexperience playing with quarterback Carson Palmer in the second half.
Washington, who turns 24 in 10 days, spent four years in the minors with the Marlins but came to football after hitting .213 for his career. **
CAPTAIN, OH CAPTAIN:Lewis named three captains just for Sunday's game with right tackle Willie Anderson for the offense, defensive tackle Tony Williams for the defense, and strong safety JoJuan Armour for special teams. Last year the Bengals didn't have a special teams captain.
STEELERS SELLOUT:** The Bengals ticket office announced Saturday that the team's second home game of the regular season, Sept. 21 against Pittsburgh, has been declared a sellout. Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis now has his sights set on the Sept. 7 opener against Denver at Paul Brown Stadium.
"It's exciting to learn this early in the preseason that we're assured of our first full house in The Jungle," Lewis said in a statement. "We're counting on our fans to help us create a winning atmosphere at home. The next goal is to sell out the season opener."
Tickets can be ordered by phone by calling the Bengals ticket office at (513) 621-TDTD or by calling TicketMaster at (513) 562-4949. Tickets can be bought in person at the team's Paul Brown Stadium office or at any TicketMaster location. Ticket order forms also are available on the team's official website, bengals.com. The Bengals play home preseason games on Aug. 16 vs. Detroit and Aug. 23 vs. Tennessee. Both are Saturday games with 7:30 p.m. kickoffs. **
SLANTS AND SCREENS:** The Bengals look to be giving rookie running back Ray Jackson plenty of chances to make it. He led all running backs with 14 carries for 54 yards that included a seven-yard touchdown. He also caught two balls for 22 yards and returned a kickoff 22 yards.
Jackson, the University of Cincinnati product who didn't play last year, got some good blocks from rookie fullback Jeremi Johnson. The score was a long time in coming for Jackson. But he's used to waiting for a chance. He transferred to UC from Michigan.
"I remember the last one. A long time ago," Jackson said. "It went for about 10 yards against Louisville.". .
Middle linebacker Kevin Hardy showed what playing eight seasons in the NFL means. With the
Jets driving behind quarterback Vinny Testaverde, Hardy dropped back into pass coverage, read Testaverde's eyes going from the inside to the outside, and picked the ball off at the Bengals' 21. His 14-yard return got wiped out by a personal foul on defensive tackle John Thornton.
"Next time, I'll get out of bounds," said Hardy, who added three tackles and another pass defensed. . .First-team defensive tackle Tony Williams had a team-high five tackles. Backup strong-side linebacker Adrian Ross was quite active with four tackles. . .
Defensive end Reinard Wilson got his first sack since last preseason just as former Bengals and Jets quarterback Boomer Esiason stepped out of the Bengals' radio half-time show. "Break out the champagne," Esiason said. . .
The following players didn't play Sunday because of injury: WR Kwazeon Leverette (toe), WR Ron Dugans (Achilles'), WR T.J. Houshmandzadeh (hamstring), TE Matt Schobel (hamstring), LB Tito Rodriguez (knee), DT Ron Smith (arm), SS Deloise Moore (hamstring). . .
Only two Bengals who were in uniform didn't play, quarterback Tommy Jones and fullback Terry Witherspoon. . .The Bengals are expected to make several cuts Tuesday morning. . .
Offensive line coach Paul Alexander tried a variety of combinations after the first unit went out at the end of the first quarter. He did keep center Mike Goff and left guard Eric Steinbach playing for the entire first half. Rich Braham played some right guard with the backups after playing center and left guard most of the camp. Scott Rehberg saw a lot of time at left tackle. Alex Sulfsted played both left guard and left tackle. . .Victor Leyva also played both guard and tackle. . .