Akili Smith's learning-on-the-job season might be much shorter than the Cincinnati Bengals had hoped.
The rookie quarterback's sprained right big toe could sideline him the rest of the year, general manager Mike Brown said. Smith hurt the toe Oct. 31 when he was sacked during a 41-10 loss to Jacksonville.
"We're not going to risk putting him in there until we're totally sure that he's medically prepared to play," Brown said Monday. "We're not going to put him out there unless we're totally confident that he would not make it worse."
The Bengals had hoped to give Smith substantial playing time this season so he could adjust to the NFL. But he missed 27 practices because he was holding out during training camp, then hurt the toe in his fourth NFL start.
The team sent Smith to be examined by a specialist last week. The doctor found no broken bones in the foot, but Smith is still limping.
"It's getting better, but I'm not going to rush planting and stepping and throwing and having the thing hang with me during the offseason," Smith said.
Jeff Blake, who had been Smith's backup, now will be the starter.
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