Why? doesn't go bye

10-21-01, 9:35 p.m.

BY GEOFF HOBSON

Physically at 0-6, the Bengals needed the bye week. Mentally at 0-6 is another story.

"I don't think there's a human being alive that likes to be called a quitter or a loser," said right tackle Willie Anderson after the team re-convened Monday following the long weekend. "We were gone. I was in Atlanta, but Cincinnati was on the mind. It's mentally draining knowing you're in a rut. It's a sports city and people keep coming up and asking you what's wrong and that's tough.

"When I watched the games yesterday, my mind was just going," Anderson said. "Thinking about why we are where we are, or, how we can get out of the rut. I almost would have rather played."

Bengals quarterback Jon Kitna got in the huddle Monday and reminded his mates that they, "have to believe we can win all 10 games or there's no reason to be here."

Anderson liked the sentiment and told him. "You're right, but let's get one first," and Kitna agreed.

Anderson is convinced his team's problem is "90 percent mental," because even when a week's practice has gone well, the Bengals have still been routed.

"That's the mind-boggling thing for us and the coaches," Anderson said. "We have a real aggressive, hard-hitting week and then we go out and play like we've been playing."

Now that much of the team is healthy for the first time in several games, they will resume practice in pads Wednesday after a break. Anderson and linebacker Takeo Spikes felt getting out of the pads was a good idea and wasn't a factor in the 0-6 start.

"(The bye) really helped me," said Spikes, who is nursing two sore pectoral muscles. "Pads or no pads,

that doesn't make football players. Just like the old saying about the dog. If that dog is going to bite, he'll bite you regardless. Same thing with a football player. If he's going to strike you, he's going to strike. It's too late for that."

Anderson recalled that running back Corey Dillon's two biggest rushing days under Dick LeBeau, 278 yards against Denver and 216 against Arizona six weeks apart in 2000, came after no-pad weeks.

Right guard Mike Goff, who returns to the starting lineup after missing three games with a badly cut knee, is happy the pads are coming back out because it gives him a chance to get timed up again. While Goff eased back into the lineup last week, Anderson (neck, hamstring), left guard Matt O'Dwyer and center Rich Braham (both with elbow problems), and backup guard Scott Rehberg (back) needed the off week.

"It was a good chance to work on getting technically sound without beating us up," said Anderson last week. "At this stage of the season, you're trying to focus on technically being sound. On the offensive line, it's seeing in your mind how to block. Getting in good position, getting good leverage."

**

DILLON DELAYED:** Running back Corey Dillon didn't make it to practice Monday, but it appears unrelated to last week's hint of a "surprise," at the end of the season if things don't get better. Head coach Dick LeBeau said Dillon called to let him know that he hit a snafu traveling and wouldn't make it on time.

**

STOP AND GO:** WR Michael Westbrook, inactive against Pittsburgh last week, said he's been told they are trying to get him back on the field now that his wrist has healed. . .

WR Danny Farmer, who rested his knee last week for a few days,

didn't practice Monday when he went home sick. . .WR T.J. Houshmandzadeh (groin) also rested Monday. At one point last week, the Bengals had two healthy receivers during practice. Then one of the practice-squad cornerbacks who was running routes to help out, LaVar Glover, got cut in favor of quarterback Joe Germaine. . .

RG Mike Goff is back with the deep cut in his knee now able to close. After he cut the knee in a bizarre off-field fall the week before the opener, Goff played the first two games even though the laceration virtually went to the bone. In the third game, the Georgia Dome's Astroturf re-opened the cut and it had to be surgically cleaned out. Since the gash went across the knee, it opened every time he bent his leg. . .

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