Free agent to play for Lewis a second time

Updated: October 6, 2004, 3:26 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

CINCINNATI -- Decimated by injuries at safety, the Cincinnati Bengals on Wednesday added veteran free agent Anthony Mitchell, a fifth-year pro who has a history with head coach Marvin Lewis.

Mitchell, who was released Sept. 5 by the Jaguars and also has played for the Ravens, played in 16 games in each of his four NFL seasons before this year. He played for Baltimore from 2000 to 2002, then was traded to the Jaguars. He had two starts among his 16 appearances for Jacksonville last season.

The addition of Mitchell, 29, was precipitated by news that starting strong safety Rogers Beckett will miss two to four weeks when the Bengals resume play Oct. 17 following an Oct. 10 bye. Beckett suffered a concussion two weeks ago and then had some residual symptoms in last Sunday's loss at Pittsburgh.

In addition to Beckett, two other Cincinnati safeties, starting free safety Kim Herring (foot) and backup Kevin Kaesviharn (back), are recovering from injuries. Beckett and Kaesviharn were out of last week's game by the end of the first quarter. The Bengals were forced to play a pair of rookie second-round picks, Madieu Williams and Keiwan Ratliff, at the safety spots.

Ratliff was drafted as a cornerback and had only scant exposure to the position in his college career.

In Mitchell, the Bengals are getting a hard hitter who has been a special teams standout in the past, but whose résumé also includes eight starts. He played under Lewis in 2000 and 2001, when the Bengals' head coach was Baltimore's defensive coordinator.

He had six games of postseason experience with Baltimore and played in the Ravens' Super Bowl victory over the Giants after the 2000 season. In the 2000 playoffs against Tennessee, he blocked a field goal and returned it 90 yards for a touchdown.

Mitchell was originally signed by the Ravens in 1999 as an undrafted free agent and spent most of his rookie season on the practice squad. He was traded to the Jaguars in 2003. In all, Mitchell has appeared in 64 games and has 52 tackles, three interceptions and three passes defensed.

Information from ESPN.com senior NFL writer Len Pasquarelli and The Associated Press used in this report.

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