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Carson Palmer's Mentor: Shane Matthews


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Current QBs on Lewis' mind


Coach wishes Akili well, and moves ahead

By Mark Curnutte

The Cincinnati Enquirer

Marvin Lewis didn't want to discuss the past. "I can't speak to (it)," the Bengals coach said after practice Monday morning, when the team officially released quarterback Akili Smith.

"We're moving forward and giving Akili an opportunity early enough to catch on and hopefully move on with his career," Lewis said.

He clearly wanted more to talk about the quarterback - Shane Matthews - who will take Smith's place on the roster. Starter Jon Kitna, Matthews and rookie Carson Palmer are the team's top three quarterbacks.

"It gives us a chance, for Shane and Carson to compete, and when Carson is ready to assume whatever position he's ready to assume, he will, but it will be up to him and how he progresses," Lewis said.

"I have a confidence level in Shane and his ability to mentor whatever quarterbacks are playing. It was what we were looking for."

Matthews, who signed a one-year contract with the Bengals for $655,000 on Saturday morning, was to arrive Monday night from a charity golf tournament. He's supposed to be on the field today.

"We did not sign Shane in order for him to come and sit around here," Lewis said. "He's got to come here and work, and he's competing to play, just like the other guys. And if he's the best guy, he'll play. But if he's not, I think he has enough maturity in him that he knows where his role will be."

Lewis was defensive coordinator with the Washington Redskins last year. Matthews played in eight games in his only season in Washington and was 3-4 in seven starts.

Lewis said he admired the professionalism Matthews displayed last season. Redskins coach Steve Spurrier juggled Matthews with two other quarterbacks, Patrick Ramsey and Danny Wuerffel.

"The adversity he's dealt with his whole career, the adversity he dealt with last year, the ups and downs, he kept a great personality about him," Lewis said.

Kitna said releasing Smith was good for Smith and the team.

Kitna said the personality of the offense would not have to change if Matthews had to play. They are similar types of drop-back, pocket quarterbacks. Smith rolled out and liked to run.

"It gives us a settled presence," Kitna said.

As for Smith, Kitna said, "In this league, when you get off on the wrong foot with somebody, it's hard to change that. He got off on the wrong foot here. Everybody thought about the negatives with him. He's going to go somewhere and they're going to focus on the positives - the fact that his arm is super lively, that he can be athletic."

Bengals wide receiver Peter Warrick said he could empathize with Smith. They were consecutive first-round draft picks - Smith No. 3 overall in 1999 and Warrick No. 4 overall in 2000.

"When you don't do good, everybody's looking at you saying, 'Why aren't you doing good?' " Warrick said. "You can't say, 'Because it's not all about (me).' Everybody's expecting you to come to the NFL and do what you did in college."

Smith played just one full year of big-time college football, 1999, at Oregon.

"Maybe he can go somewhere else where they will develop him," Bengals right tackle Willie Anderson said. "He needs more development. He probably never had a chance to do that here."

ROOKIE DEAL: The Bengals have reportedly reached agreement on a contract with seventh-round draft pick Scott Kooistra. EPSN.com reported Monday that the offensive tackle agreed to a three-year, $951,000 contract that includes a $41,000 signing bonus. The base salaries are $225,000, $305,000 and $380,000. The salary cap hit will be $238,667 in 2003.

Reaction: :laugh: Sad Sack Shane sure did a fine job mentoring Patrick last year, didn't he?
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