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By Rachael Brandon,

INTRODUCING... Peter Warrick and Ron Dugans. Teammates at Florida State, they were selected by the Bengals in the first and third rounds, respectively, of April's draft. The two are close friends, and will push each other to work out if one's not feeling up to it. They spend time together off the field and could spend a lot of time together on it. "We'll get on each other, make each other pick it up," Dugans said. "We've been doing it since we got to Florida State and we'll continue to do that."

Warrick will definitely start for the Bengals, but Dugans will also get a chance since the Bengals lost receiver Darnay Scott for the year during the preseason.

NFL INSIDER POWER RATINGS Ratings based on analysis of 1999 team and individual statistics, offseason personnel moves and feedback from respected experts (from NFL Insider's Season Preview issue) Rushing offense: 9.1 Passing offense: 8.6 Rushing defense: 8.0 Passing defense: 7.2 Special teams: 8.1 Coaching: 6.9 Intangibles: 7.3 TOTAL: 55.2 Scale of 1-10; Perfect score=70

ON THE COMEBACK TRAIL... Center Rich Braham had surgery on July 31 to remove the bursa sack on his right knee. The Bengals do not have another player who has started a game at center. Braham is one tough cookie, so expect him to be in the lineup. Two years ago, he broke his toe in training camp but started the first 12 regular-season games before being sidelined by a knee injury.

IMPACT NEWCOMER... The Bengals had the fourth-worst pass defense in the league last season so second-round pick Mark Roman should be able to help out right away. It would have been better for both parties if his contract had been worked out sooner so he could have gotten into camp and made his mark, but it's too late to worry about that now.

"I think I can learn it," Roman said of his late start. "It's more about technique. It's more mental than physical. I'll always be learning about my positions."

DON'T OVERLOOK... Rookie cornerback Robert Bean. Bean, a fifth-round draft choice, played so well during training camp that the Bengals could worry a little less about Roman's early-camp absence. Bean is pushing to be the No. 4 cornerback on the roster but he's also valuable on special teams.

BENGALS AT A GLANCE Head coach: Bruce Coslet (fifth year with Cincinnati) 1999 record: 4-12 (fifth in AFC Central) 1999 rankings: Offense - 15th overall (329.8 yards/game) sixth run, (128.2), 23rd pass (201.6) Defense - 25th overall (343.6 yards/game), 16th run (106.2) 28th pass (237.4)

KEY COMINGS NT Chad Pegues; DE Vaughn Booker (Packers) DT Tom Barndt (Chiefs) OL Scott Rehberg (Browns) QB Scott Mitchell (Ravens) OT John Jackson (Chargers)

KEY GOINGS QB Jeff Blake (Saints) DL Kimo von Oelhoffen (Steelers) WR Willie Jackson (Saints) RB Ki-Jana Carter QB Eric Kresser CB Ty Howard (Titans) WR Carl Pickens (Titans) TOP DRAFT CHOICES WR Peter Warrick (1st round, No. 4 overall) DB Mark Roman (2nd) WR Ron Dugans (3rd)

BREAKING THROUGH... Mike Goff 's versatility means he will get a lot of playing time this year. He played mostly special teams last year, but filled in nicely at left tackle in two games last year when Rod Jones was injured. This season Goff, listed as a guard, will help keep the center position warm while Braham recovers from arthroscopic knee surgery. When Braham comes back, Goff will get plenty of time at guard.

STATISTICALLY SPEAKING... The Bengals' top returning receiver is Tony McGee, who had 26 catches for 344 yards and two touchdowns last season. ... The Bengals finished fifth in the AFC Central last season but boasted the third-best offense in the division with 329.8 yards per game.

CAN'T MISS... The Bengals open the season and christen Paul Brown Stadium when the Cleveland Browns visit Sept. 10. There should be a festive atmosphere on the riverfront. And it will be the debut of Warrick. What more could you ask for?

Expect high drama when Carl Pickens and the Titans visit on Oct. 8. Pickens jumped to the Bengals division rival after Cincinnati released him, and it will be his first trip back to town.

TO BE ANSWERED... Will Warrick make up for the loss of Scott? While the Bengals certainly hoped Scott and Warrick would be lining up together, the former Seminole tandem of Warrick and Dugans will also prove interesting. If Akili Smith can stay healthy, the Bengals could have quite a passing game.

Will the Bengals have any kind of ground game? Corey Dillon may get off to a slow start due to his holdout. Michael Basnight is supposed to be back by the second or third game, but there's speculation that the Bengals will put him on injured reserve because they have too many backs on the roster. The list includes Brandon Bennett, who rushed for 243 yards last season, fullback Clif Groce, Nick Williams, a fullback who could see time at tail back, and Curtis Keaton, an unproven rookie.

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