Foot injury leaves RB Leonard uncertain of return

Published 2:07 am Thursday, August 12, 2010

GEORGETOWN, Ky. — The Cincinnati Bengals aren’t sure how long running back Brian Leonard will miss because of an injured left foot.

Leonard hurt the foot during a 16-7 loss to Dallas in the Hall of Fame game on Saturday. Leonard, the Bengals’ top pass-catching threat out of the backfield, initially feared he had torn ligaments and might have to miss the season.

Coach Marvin Lewis said on Wednesday that he’s optimistic Leonard will be able to play at some point during the season. He said it will be a couple more weeks before the team has a better idea how long it will take to heal.

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“There’s nothing that says he would be out for the year or on (injured reserve), so we’ll go from there,” Lewis said.

Leonard led the Bengals’ running backs with 30 catches last season, 19 of them on third down.

The Bengals also are waiting on offensive tackle Andre Smith to get into shape.

Smith was a first-round pick last year, but missed training camp in a contract holdout and broke his left foot two days after reporting. He started only one game last season, then had surgery on the foot. He has been slow to recover and showed up for camp out of shape.

Smith hasn’t been cleared to practice. He’s working out apart from his teammates.

In a rare display of frustration with a player, Lewis said he could decide to have the lineman open the season on the physically unable to perform list, a move that would cost him part of his salary.

“Whenever he gets to where I want him, that’s when we’ll have him,” Lewis said. “He’s being monitored hourly.”

Smith’s contract stipulates that he loses half of his paycheck if he weighs more than 350 pounds or isn’t on the 45-man roster. Smith’s base salary is $1.08 million this year, so he’d lose $31,700 for each game that he’s overweight or unable to play.

“Andre’s going to figure out how to become a pro and do things the way it’s asked to do all the time,” Lewis said. “Hopefully he continues to do it in a timely fashion. Because otherwise, I’m not going to go through this year in and year out.”

Lewis didn’t have a timetable for receiver Antonio Bryant to rejoin practice. Bryant had surgery on his left knee last season. He signed a four-year, $28 million deal with Cincinnati in the offseason, but has been bothered by the knee during offseason workouts.

With Bryant unable to practice, the Bengals signed receiver Terrell Owens to a one-year contract at the start of training camp.

“I wish I could tell you tomorrow’s the day, but we’re not there yet,” Lewis said. “He’s doing the work and doing other treatments that we wish were done in the leg before. It’s a process that we’re going to let it take its time and see how it comes out.”

The Bengals play Denver in their season preseason game Sunday night at Paul Brown Stadium.