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Bengals owner defends team's lastest pick

CINCINNATI (July 14, 2006) -- Bengals owner Mike Brown defended the team's decision to take another player with a troubled background in the NFL's supplemental draft, a move that has raised questions about the team's standards.

The Bengals chose linebacker Ahmad Brooks in the supplemental draft Thursday. Brooks played at Virginia for three seasons, but was later kicked off the team. The university didn't give specifics about the decision.

Second-year receiver Chris Henry and 2006 draft picks Frostee Rucker and A.J. Nicholson have been charged with criminal offenses in recent months. When they drafted them, the Bengals were aware that all three got into trouble during their college careers.

In an unusual move, Brown issued a statement reassuring fans that the team has standards for its players.

"We want our fans to know that we share their concerns regarding the recent off-field conduct of several Bengals players," Brown said. "We expect our players to be good citizens, as most are, and we hold them accountable for their conduct under team and league rules."

Brown defended the decision to take Brooks, noting that there are no pending allegations against him.

"The club's judgment is that any past transgressions were insufficient to deny him an opportunity to prove himself as a responsible NFL player," Brown said.

The Bengals drafted Henry in the third round last year despite his history of run-ins with coaches at West Virginia, where he was ejected, benched and suspended. Henry has been arrested four times since joining the Bengals.

Last month, Henry pleaded not guilty to charges that he provided alcohol to three underage females. He also faces a drunken driving charge in suburban Cincinnati, and is scheduled for trial Aug. 21 in Florida on a charge of carrying a concealed weapon.

Nicholson, a fifth-round pick in April, was charged last month with burglarizing the apartment of a former Florida State teammate. He also faces grand theft and vandalism charges in Florida.

Also last month, Rucker was charged with two counts of spousal battery and vandalism in Los Angeles. The third-round pick has denied the allegations.

Coach Marvin Lewis said before the April draft that he would "red flag" any players who had trouble with their coaches or teammates in college. He has defended the team's subsequent draft picks.

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