5-10-01, 11:40 p.m.
BY GEOFF HOBSON
Nick Williams is thinking about trying to play this season without surgery for the damaged anterior cruciate ligament in his knee.
Williams, who tore his ACL Sunday at minicamp, is getting a second opinion Friday in Birmingham, Ala., from Dr. James Andrews.
"I'm already walking around and I was shooting baskets today," Williams said Thursday night from Atlanta. "I wasn't guarding somebody, but I was taking jump shots and everything. It doesn't hurt. It's something I'm thinking about, but I want to hear what somebody else thinks. I could have surgery. I could not."
The Bengals have recommended surgery, although trainer Paul Sparling said it's possible
Williams could be ready for training camp with a brace and rehab if he doesn't have surgery.
"Surgery is the gold standard for the way this injury is handled now," Sparling said. "And he does have some cartilage damage in the knee as well, so that could be a factor."
Sparling did say Williams has the kind of injury that could be treated without surgery because the damage is isolated to one ligament and doesn't involve the other two.
If Williams has surgery, the best-case scenario is a return by the middle of the season. After the surgery, the Bengals would probably wait until Cutdown Day just before the regular season to decide if they would save a roster spot for Williams or put him on injured reserve for the rest of the year.
The Bengals picked up the Titans' Lorenzo Neal in free agency to fill Williams' spot and he's the only healthy fullback. While Clif Groce recovers from a sprained knee, running back Michael Basnight has been taking snaps at fullback to get the team through the voluntary workouts.
But Basnight isn't seen as a long-term solution there. One of the tight ends, most likely third-round pick Sean Brewer, could also be used as a fullback in certain situations.