Washington says he's ready

8-12-03, 3:05 p.m.

BY GEOFF HOBSON

GEORGETOWN, Ky. _ The curious case of Kelley Washington looked to be resolved after he worked in Tuesday morning's shoulder-pad only workout here at Georgetown College.

Washington, a wide receiver from Tennessee who fell out of the first round on Draft Day because of a neck injury, missed his NFL debut Sunday when he flew to Dallas to get a second opinion on his neck. Although he made the trip Saturday to New Jersey, Washington said at the last minute he wanted to be sure his own surgeon cleared him before he played in a game for the first time since he suffered a concussion Oct. 12, 2002 against Georgia.

"I just wanted to be totally sure knowing that this is my first game back," Washington said after practice. "I was cleared by the NFL doctors around

the league, but I haven't had a chance to see my own doctor at the Cowboys. I just wanted that peace of mind. That reassurance from my own surgeon even though every single doctor in the NFL had cleared me."

Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis still appeared miffed at the timing of the move, but he said he didn't think it was Washington's fault.

"Prior to the indecision coming from people behind him, Kelley had shown no indecision. I just think that's a lot to dump on him all at once," Lewis said, referring to the pre-season opener.

Lewis seems convinced that Washington isn't going to have any lingering fears about playing."

"I don't know that it necessarily was Kelley's fault. I know it actually wasn't Kelley's fault. It's just poor timing, it's resolved, let's move forward," Lewis said. "He's confident. He had to erase out of it out of his mind."

Washington indicated he hadn't felt any problems since he became the last rookie to end his holdout in his first practice eight days ago. Before he got the concussion on what he called "whiplash," Washington was averaging 19.3 yards for his 23 catches. On Nov. 19, he underwent surgery to fuse two vertebrae in his neck.

"The timing was kind of because it was late," Washington said. "We had to schedule it around my surgeon. I know it's kind of late, but I just wanted that reassurance from my own surgeon. I received that yesterday, and it's full go from there. I'm excited to be back on the field."

Washington is currently third on the depth chart at one of the receiver spots behind Peter Warrick and Ron Dugans.

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