Another former Duck QB to start.

After spending most of the last two seasons as the emergency third quarterback, Akili Smith will start Sunday for the Bengals against Tampa Bay. Coach Dick LeBeau made the announcement Monday, a day after pulling former starter Gus Frerotte from the 30-3 loss at Atlanta. Frerotte has thrown six interceptions and one touchdown in three starts. Jon Kitna relieved Frerotte and threw an interception.

"We're averaging (4.8) yards per throw, and under 10 yards (9.2) per catch," LeBeau said. "We don't have any big plays. We want to look at this combination."

At 0-3, the Bengals have been outscored 26-0 in the first quarter and 31-3 in the second quarter. Overall, they have an 84-16 scoring disadvantage.

"He has a totally different style than the other two guys, and I think we need that right now," LeBeau said.

Smith started the first 10 games in 2000 before losing the job to Scott Mitchell. The Bengals offense with Smith playing was no more effective than it has been in the first three starts of 2002. But Smith appears to have matured as a quarterback.

"I've got another opportunity. That's all I ever asked for," Smith said. "Hopefully, I can get some points on the board with the offense early in the game."

Smith also said he would play the same pass-and-run style that made him effective in the second half of all four preseason games. He is playing more freely than he did as a first- or second-year quarterback.

"My season begins now," he said. "I'm not even thinking about us being 0-3. I have 13 games to go out there and prove myself and show everybody how much I've learned."

Cincinnati selected Smith with the third pick of the first round in 1999 out of Oregon. Smith also was an outfielder l in the Pirates organization after graduating from Lincoln High School in San Diego, California.

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