- The Washington Times - Monday, August 14, 2006

CINCINNATI — Following a lost 2005 season and a depressing winter that saw him dismissed from the Virginia football team, Woodbridge native Ahmad Brooks feels like an athlete again.

“It’s definitely fun when you’re playing and get to smelling like a player again,” the Cincinnati Bengals rookie said.

Only in football is body odor a badge of honor.

“It is because when you’re injured and being out for the season not helping your team and knowing they might be doing better with you in there, it brings you down and you don’t feel like you’re part of the team,” Brooks said. “I love being a part of things again.”

Brooks, the son of former Washington Redskins player Perry Brooks, played middle linebacker for the Bengals last night against the Washington Redskins.

Injuries limited Ahmad Brooks to six games with Virginia last season, and he was dismissed by Cavaliers coach Al Groh this winter. The Bengals chose Brooks in the third round of the NFL Supplemental Draft on July 13.

“He really has done outstanding,” Bengals coach Marvin Lewis said. “He keeps learning and getting better. Obviously, he didn’t have those 18 to 24 practices that the rest of the football team had during the offseason program. But he has learned well, and when he makes a mistake, he understands what he did.”

Entering last night’s game, Brooks was listed as the second-team middle linebacker behind Brian Simmons. Starter Odell Thurman will sit out the first four regular season games because of a substance abuse violation.

Heading into the supplemental draft, speculation on Brooks’ future team centered on San Francisco and Cleveland. But the Bengals were on his radar after linebackers coach Ricky Hunley talked to Brooks at his personal workout.

Because he missed the Bengals’ offseason program, Brooks traveled to Cincinnati before training camp to get a crash course from Hunley and defensive coordinator Chuck Bresnahan.

“As far as my conditioning, I was in decent shape, and because I came in early, I was able to get pretty familiar when they started throwing different things at me,” Brooks said. “But I think I’ve been able to keep up by paying attention.”

Collins’ debut

Relieving Mark Brunell after the Redskins’ second offensive series, Todd Collins was 6-for-13 for 68 yards and one interception.

Collins’ first two drives ended in an interception and a safety (intentional grounding in the end zone). The Redskins’ lone first half scoring drive was 10 plays and 46 yards and was highlighted by third-down passes of 19 yards and 22 yards by Collins.

Trade rumor

Though Clinton Portis’ left shoulder injury probably would end any discussion, the New York Jets reportedly are interested in Ladell Betts. The Jets’ Curtis Martin might not be able to return from a knee injury. New York also is intrigued by Denver’s Tatum Bell.

Even before Portis was injured, it would have been surprising if the Redskins parted with Betts because reliable No. 2 running backs are valuable, he’s the primary kickoff returner and he figures to play a bigger role in the offense this season.

Betts was held out of last night’s game. He had missed practice time last week with a hamstring injury.

Eleven don’t travel

Eleven Redskins did not make the trip to Cincinnati — safety Curry Burns (hamstring), defensive lineman Nic Clemons (knee), receiver Taylor Jacobs (hip flexor), cornerback Ade Jimoh (sternum), offensive lineman Kili Lefotu (illness), running back Jesse Lumsden (hip flexor), defensive tackle Anthony Montgomery (hamstring), offensive tackle Jim Molinaro (knee), tight end Calen Powell (hip flexor), linebacker Kevin Simon (stomach) and defensive back Aric Williams (hamstring).

In addition to Portis’ injury, running back Kerry Carter (right knee) and linebackers Chris Clemons (sprained MCL) and Spencer Havner (sprained elbow) were hurt in the game.

Jets up next

The Redskins have today off before practicing once a day tomorrow through Thursday. They play host to the New York Jets on Saturday at 8 p.m. The Jets lost to Tampa Bay 16-3 on Friday. Former Redskins quarterback Patrick Ramsey was 2-for-3 for 9 yards.

Ramsey came in after Chad Pennington and rookie Kellen Clemens and played only one series.

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