Bengals' Smith Could Miss Yr

Iditarod veteran and 1975 champion Emmitt Peters, 65, right, toasts Paul Gebhardt, of Kasilof, Alaska, for being the first musher to reach the Yukon River checkpoint of Ruby, Alaska, on the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race early Friday, March 10, 2006. Gebhardt was rewarded with a seven-course gourmet dinner cooked by an executive chef on a camp stove and $3,500 in cash by the Millennium Alaskan Hotel.
AP Photo/Al Grillo

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.

©1999 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed