Bengals running into trouble with law again

For authorities tracking a marijuana shipment from California, the trail ended unexpectedly at the home of Cincinnati Bengals starting wide receiver Jerome Simpson in suburban northern Kentucky, where police say they found more drugs. It's the latest of several run-ins with the law by Bengals players in recent years.

No arrests have been made. Police were still investigating the case Thursday that has entangled Simpson, a North Carolina native in his fourth NFL season. A package containing 2½ pounds of marijuana was tracked to Simpson's home.

The case is being investigated by police at the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport, along with local authorities.

A Bengals spokesman said the club was aware of the reports but had no comment. Calls to Simpson's agent went unreturned.

Simpson was excused from practice on Thursday to deal with the matter. It was unclear whether he would be available to play in Sunday's game between the 1-1 49ers and 1-1 Bengals at Paul Brown Stadium – San Francisco's first trip to play in Cincinnati since 2003.

Simpson was at his home along with a girlfriend and teammate Anthony Collins on Tuesday when the woman accepted the package, said Michelle Gregory, a spokeswoman with the California Department of Justice.

Collins' agent didn't return a call seeking comment. Collins, a reserve offensive tackle, practiced on Thursday but didn't make himself available to reporters for comment. Coach Marvin Lewis said Collins wasn't a focus of the investigation, though he declined further comment.

Simpson is Cincinnati's second-leading receiver after two games with eight receptions for 180 yards. He had an 84-yard reception but did not score on the play in last week's 24-22 loss to the Denver Broncos, when Simpson finished with four receptions for 136 yards.

The package delivered to Simpson's home originated in Eureka, Calif., part of the so-called Emerald Triangle, the state's vaunted pot-growing region, and was discovered by a drug-sniffing dog in Sacramento, Gregory said.

The address label bore the name of Jason Snider, but Gregory said it's not unusual for people to use false names when sending illegal drugs through the mail.

A search of Simpson's home also turned up six more pounds of marijuana, smoking pipes and scales, authorities said.

''We don't believe it (the package) was for personal use,'' Gregory said. ''We believe there's some sort of distribution or sales out of his home.''

The Bengals had 10 players arrested during a 10-month span from April 2006 to June 2007. Receiver Chris Henry was the biggest repeat offender, one of the factors in NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell cracking down on player misconduct.

The Bengals created a stir when they decided to bring Henry back after his fifth arrest. He later died in a fall from his fiancee's truck.

Two players got arrested last summer, putting the Bengals back in the spotlight.

Last July, cornerback Adam ''Pacman'' Jones was arrested in downtown Cincinnati and charged with misdemeanor disorderly conduct and resisting arrest. He pleaded not guilty and is scheduled for trial in November. Jones is currently on an injury list as he recovers from offseason neck surgery.

Running back Cedric Benson served five days of a 20-day jail sentence prior to the start of the regular season after pleading no contest to a misdemeanor assault charge for punching an Austin, Tex., bar employee in May 2010.

It was reported Thursday that Benson has been handed a three-game suspension by the NFL for violating the league's personal conduct policy. According to Yahoo! Sports, Benson was suspended for actions that occurred during the NFL lockout, making him the first player to receive a suspension for off-field incidents that took place during the league's labor dispute.

Benson, 28, was involved in a separate assault case in July – one week before the lockout ended – in which he was accused of fighting a former roommate. The former University of Texas star reportedly entered into a deferred prosecution agreement in that case, meaning the charge would be dropped if he stayed out of trouble for one year.

Benson is expected to appeal the suspension at a hearing next Tuesday. He is expected to play Sunday against the 49ers pending the appeal, as no suspension is official until after the appeal.

Benson has led the Bengals in rushing each of the past three seasons, including a career-high 1,251 yards in 2009 and 1,111 last season. Entering this week's game, Benson ranks ninth in the NFL in rushing this year with 180 yards.

Law enforcement agents are trying to determine who sent the package to Simpson's home. There was no return label.

Gregory said if Kentucky authorities do not charge Simpson or others, California may consider that possibility.

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