One of the biggest questions, if not the biggest question, is how improved is the offensive line after last year. This isn't something you can answer immediately. And you definitely can't answer it after one game. We projected and expected that the Bengals line would struggle early in the season. Think about it. Three of the five starters had 12 career starts heading into the 2009 season. Andrew Whitworth is playing a position that he hadn't regularly played since the 2006 season. It'll take time for this unit to gel together.
It was somewhat evident against the Denver Broncos on Sunday. NFL Game Center counted only four quarterback hits on Carson Palmer during the course of the game; three of which resulted in quarterback sacks. Two of those sacks came from the defender that Anthony Collins, who is starting his first regular season game at right tackle, was blocking. Cedric Benson allowed a sack, appearing like he was tripping over his feet to get into position for the block. Furthermore, the Bengals only averaged 3.2 yards-per-rush against the Broncos. The rushing offense was apparently deemed so unsuccessful in the first half, that the genius offensive coordinator Bob Bratkowski elected to only call seven rushing plays in the second half. In his defense, he really didn't have a choice; there just wasn't much room for Benson to run.
Either way, it wasn't expected that this unit would set records. Expectations should have never been all that high to begin with at the start of the season.
Lastly, the team already suffered a casualty against the Denver Broncos when starting left guard left the game with a knee injury. As for the extent of his injury, Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis said, "We may have lost Nate Livings with a knee. I don’t know if we’ll have his services this week." In other words, Lewis is his typical hush-hush self when it comes to injuries. If Livings can't go against the Packers, then the Bengals will likely start Evan Mathis.
Including the game against the Broncos, Mathis has played in 34 career games with the Carolina Panthers, Miami Dolphins and Bengals. He started in 15 games for the Carolina Panthers in 2006. For those of you that are interested, Panther quarterbacks were sacked 32 times in 2006 and the rushing offense averaged 3.9 yards-per-rush on the season.