"I have so much to learn, the only thing I think about is Tim Krumrie (the Cincinnati nose tackle), as far as what I have to do to get the job done on him. And then there's the little things outside of football that I have to do.
"I don't have time to think about a vengeance factor, I just want to play. I think we have a good enough club that, if I do my job, we'll be all right."
A HISTORY OF HURTS
Rimington's career has been dotted with elbow and knee injuries, and last year, he missed five games with an ankle injury. On top of that, he was the Bengals' assistant player representative, and he was a summer-long holdout.
Paul Brown, the Bengals' vice president and general manager, has never been known to be long on patience, and after Rimington folded his hand and reported at the end of training camp, the Bengals sent him through a battery of physical tests.
According to Rimington, he was told by the team that the arthritis in his elbows and knees had gotten too severe for him to play. Of course, when he got to Philadelphia, he was given the go-ahead to play, and with only a week of practice, he was starting against Tampa Bay on Sunday.
"You know, you can take a player and send him to 28 teams," Bengals coach Sam Wyche said, "and a player that has a history of a lot of injuries and does have a residue of those injuries - as Dave, I'm sure, will admit he does have - some of the physicians will say, 'OK, he can play,' and others will say, 'No, he's too high a risk.' "
HE HAD THEIR SYMPATHY
While there were medical gray areas, what seemed clear to his former teammates was that Rimington had gotten a raw deal.
Quarterback Boomer Esiason, his best friend on the Bengals, wore his No. 50 jersey in practice as a symbolic gesture after Rimington was released.
"The main thing was the way it happened," said Anthony Munoz, Cincinnati's Pro Bowl offensive tackle. "The one thing everyone was looking at and saying was: 'Hey, I mean, why that way? If he wasn't in the plans, why not do it earlier.' "
Being let go by the Bengals was not easy for Rimington to accept, but he has had to put his emotions about what happened behind him in order to concentrate on the task at hand, which includes blocking Krumrie, who is a Pro Bowler.
"I let him beat up on me in practice for the last five years," Rimington joked. "At least I'll get paid for it this time. That's one plus."
Rimington never had much time for orientation with the Eagles. He immediately had to begin cramming for final exams, because he had only a week of practice before lining up in the Eagles' 41-14, season-opening rout of Tampa Bay.
"I had cheat notes on my wristbands," he said. "It was ridiculous. It
was like being back in high school. I had all these numbers and things
written on my wrists - the left hand's the goal line, the other one's the
nickel runs. . . ."
Compounding Rimington's problems is the fact that the Eagles' numbering system for the holes in the offensive line is the opposite of what he had been used to with the Bengals.
"I have to keep fighting it," he said. "It's when you get tired that you start making mistakes and you start to revert to the old plays in Cincinnati. I'm getting more comfortable with it, but I'm not there yet."
Oddly, even with the difficulties, Rimington was the winner of the first Randall Cunningham Sweepstakes. The Eagles quarterback has pledged to give $1,000 to the offensive lineman who grades the highest in each winning effort. Rimington got the initial prize for his play against Tampa.
That was just the sort of Welcome Wagon treatment certain to make a guy feeling his way in a new environment feel right at home.
In the wake of tailback Keith Byars' nine-carry, 5-yard performance against the Bucs and of coach Buddy Ryan's jabs at both Byars and fullback Anthony Toney, Byars offered a mild defense yesterday.
Ryan had said that former Chicago great Walter Payton was able to find running room even when there was little or no daylight.
"I understand what he's saying," Byars said, "but it kind of works two ways.
"Any defense knows that the best way to stop any running back, no matter who he is, is to stop him before he gets started. And if you get him good in the backfield, before he has a chance to get started, it's hard to make a lot of room.
"Then, again, on the other side, once you get into the line, that's when you can make the offensive line look good. If someone's not holding their block long enough, you can make a good cut and make it look better, gain some positive yards out of it."
Byars was dumped three times in the backfield on Sunday for losses totaling 11 yards. On two of those occasions, Toney missed cut blocks, and the other time, defensive end John Cannon of the Bucs, running a slant, went over Rimington.
"I'm still looking forward to a big season," said Byars.
The Bengals are banged up heading into Sunday's 4 p.m. game at the Vet. Coach Sam Wyche said that several players were trying to rehabilitate injuries, with wide receiver Cris Collinsworth (groin) heading the list. Collinsworth is questionable, along with cornerback Ray Horton (hamstring). Two other receivers - Eddie Brown (knee) and Ira Hillary (ankle) - are probable.
The Eagles reported only one injury. Tight end Dave Little (knee) is questionable.
Wyche said cornerback Rickey Dixon, the Bengals' No. 1 draft pick, who came to terms with the team on Sept. 3, will be activated for Sunday but limited to action in the nickel defense. . . . The Bengals are the only NFL team the Eagles never have beaten. In fact, in their four losses to Cincinnati, the Eagles never have scored more than 14 points. The closest game was the most recent - an 18-14 Bengals victory in 1982. . . . There are 5,000 tickets left for Sunday's home opener. If there is no sellout 72 hours before the kickoff - in other words, by 4 p.m. today - league rules will prohibit the televising of the game locally.