PATRIOTS:

A 6-foot-7, 300-pound nightclub bouncer was held on bond yesterday in Providence, R.I., for allegedly assaulting Patriots' wide receiver Hart Lee Dykes. William Earley, 35, hobbled into District Court on the crutches he allegedly used to hit Dykes in the eye during a scuffle outside Club Shalimar early Wednesday.

Judge Gilbert Indeglia set Earley's bond at $40,000. The judge also ordered Earley held until a Superior Court parole and probation hearing in Newport, R.I., next week. Earley is on parole and probation from a robbery charge. He received a suspended sentence for a conviction of punching a man at a Newport club.

NO ACTION ON NEWTON:

The Cowboys don't plan any immediate disciplinary action against offensive guard Nate Newton, who was arrested last month on a charge of driving while intoxicated, a team spokesman said yesterday. The Plano (Tex.) Star Courier reported yesterday that it learned of Newton's Sept. 10 arrest in the Dallas suburb of Plano from police records and court documents.

"This is a personal matter that involves Nate Newton and the authorities," Cowboys spokesman Rich Dalrymple said. "It is our position that he would be treated like any ordinary citizen. It's something for the authorities to handle."

ICKEY BACK:

Running back Ickey Woods, who starred as a rookie for the Cincinnati Bengals in their 1988 Super Bowl year before a knee injury last season put his career on hold, is likely to return to the active roster soon. Mike Brown, the Bengals' assistant general manager, said the team expects to activate Woods next week, but has not decided what his role will be when he returns.

The Bengals also disclosed that all-pro strong safety David Fulcher is suffering from degenerative arthritis in his left knee. Fulcher, 26, has been suffering persistent pain in the knee and underwent a magnetic imaging resonance scan Monday.

Team physician Robert Heidt Jr. said the condition does not appear to be career-threatening. The 240-pound Fulcher said he was advised that losing 10 pounds could prolong his career.