8-31-03, 2:50 p.m.
BY GEOFF HOBSON
Marvin Lewis showed no mercy on draft position, contract status, or past performance as defensive end Reinard Wilson, outside linebacker Steve Foley, wide receiver Danny Farmer, and safety Lamont Thompson headed the surprises Sunday on the Bengals' Cutdown Day.
Backup middle linebacker Armegis Spearman was also among the Sunday surprises because back in March the Bengals gave him $550,000 to match an offer sheet from the Packers.
Also released Sunday were Travis Dorsch, which gives the punting job to Nick Harris, and tight end Sean Brewer, one of four players cut by the club Sunday that were taken on the first day of their respective drafts. Lewis said despite Harris' four drops as the holder during the preseason, he'll hold for kicker Neil Rackers in next Sunday's regular-season opener against Denver at Paul Brown Stadium.
Wilson was a first-round pick in 1997 and Thompson, taken in the 2002 draft, becomes the first second-round pick not to be with the club for two Opening Days since rookie Freddie Childress was cut in the 1989 training camp.
Also released Sunday was a 2003 draft pick in sixth-rounder Langston Moore, a defensive tackle from South Carolina, as well as free-agent rookies Ray Jackson, a running back from the University of Cincinnati, Ja'Waren Blair, a defensive tackle from East Carolina, tackle Belton Johnson from Mississippi, and wide receiver Kevin Walter from Eastern Michigan. Thatcher Szalay, a second-year, center, also got cut. Szalay, Brewer, and Dorsch are eligible for the five-man practice squad that has to be finalized by 4 p.m. Monday. Also eligible are Jackson, Blair , Moore, Johnson and Walter.
Lewis promised he would keep fast guys who know what they're doing and can help on special teams, which explains how college free agents
such as Oregon State cornerback Terrell Roberts and Stephen F. Austin wide receiver Lawrence Hamilton made it. Also on the roster is second-year defensive end Greg Scott even though he just joined the team off waivers Thursday. It helps that Lewis was part of the team that drafted him last year and was his defensive coordinator last year in Washington.
But some of the names could change Monday after the club tackles the waiver wire.
The Bengals have traditionally hung with high-round picks, and players they have recently signed with a large bonus. But Wilson was both, and after leading the team in sacks with nine in 2001, he signed a three-year deal in the $4.5 million range. Then he slipped to no sacks last season, and Lewis sent him on his way. The Bengals also gave Foley $3.1 million in bonus and salary to sign a four-year extension during the 2001 season.
They gave Thompson $1.6 million to sign last season, but Lewis apparently preferred the speed and special teams aptitude of Roberts. Farmer had some memorable days in Cincinnati, including his 18-yard touchdown catch against the Steelers with 37 seconds left that forged overtime in a game the Bengals won. But on Friday, Hamilton, picked up on waivers Aug. 6, gave the coaches an eyeful with four catches for 121 yards.