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Familiar Face Returns

With injuries to Domata Peko and Tank Johnson depleting the defensive tackle spot, the Bengals brought back an old friend today in DT Shaun Smith. Smith left Cincinnati after the 2006 season as a restricted free agent, signing an 8.6 million dollar contract with Cleveland.

Then Browns coach Romeo Crennel envisioned Smith as the all-important nose tackle in the 3-4 defense he attempted to build. New Browns coach Eric Mangini disagreed apparently, having cut Smith during the preseason. He was subsequently signed and released by the Lions prior to the start of the regular season and went on to play for the Las Vegas Locos of the UFL for two games, including their win in the inaugural season championship game.

A solid run-stuffing DT, Smith is perhaps best known however for his off the field antics. He reportedly punched Browns QB Brady Quinn during a weight lifting session last year, and is generally believed to be responsible for leaking to the media the now-infamous Chad Ochocinco meltdown during halftime of the 2005 playoff loss to Pittsburgh. In addition to those incidents, he’s been known as a trash talker with questionable respect for authority. For now, at least, he’s saying all the right things.

“Some guys don’t understand. Being on the street and not playing and knowing you can still play is difficult.” Smith said, “I’m blessed to be able to play on Sundays again.”

Here’s hoping the Bengals have made another good addition to the “Scrap Heap” defense.

To make room for Smith, the Bengals placed TE Chase Coffman on season-ending injured reserve. Coffman was officially listed as shut down for bone spurs in his ankle, but the reality is he hasn’t shown enough to dress all year. He’s been inactive for every game so far, and with the improving play of J.P. Foschi, there appeared to be little chance of that changing any time soon.

The Bengals also re-signed CB Antonio Smith to the practice squad. Smith was originally signed to the squad on November 26th, but was released shortly thereafter.

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