The biggest addition in free agency by the Bengals may have been new left guard Travelle Wharton. Sure you could mention BenJarvus Green-Ellis, Jason Allen, or Terence Newman and not get too much argument. But Wharton instantly improves the running game, something that was lacking at times last season. Paired up rookie first round pick Kevin Zeitler, the guard play should be improved this season. But in order to get to the season opener in Baltimore, Wharton must first survive training camp. Wharton was one of three players that exited the first training camp practice early due to heat and hydration issues. Wharton was surprised that the heat got the best of him:
"It got me at the end," Wharton told Dan Hoard. "That surprised me because I’ve been down in the Carolinas my whole life and it’s really humid, but it was a hot one yesterday. I’m taking in my fluids and I’ll have a great day today."
Getting caught up in the heat is nothing to be ashamed of, of course. But Wharton is still adjusting to life as a Cincinnati Bengal. He admitted that he was nervous on the first day of practice but knows that nerves will not play much of a factor from this point on:
"You get the nerves out on day one," said Wharton. "Everybody is anxious to get on the field, but once you’re out there and get everything going, it settles down and you’re like, ‘Alright, it’s time to play football and get after it.’"
Wharton helped to protect rookie of the year Cam Newton last season, and now he will protect the runner up, Andy Dalton. Wharton has been impressed with what he has seen from Dalton thus far:
"Man, it seems like he’s been around for years," Wharton said of Dalton. "His poise, his mannerisms, and the way he carries himself – he’s going to be a pro for a very long time. The way he comes in and works and pays attention to details – it’s no secret why he is as good as he is. He has great leadership qualities."
The Bengals are also fond of the leadership that Wharton brings. They hope to have him fill the gap in leadership that Bobbie Williams left when he was not re-signed. When asked about the new left guard, head coach Marvin Lewis spoke about Wharton understanding his role:
"Travelle has a very similar personality (to Green-Ellis). They’re warm guys that are getting to know their teammates, but they know they brought here for a reason. I know that’s important to them."
Wharton does understand why he was brought to Cincinnati:
"My job is to come in here and be a great teammate and make my blocks," said Wharton. "I really can’t control anything else. I just want to come in here and play the best football of my career."
With All-22 film footage being implemented for the hardcore fans this season, it will be much easier to grade how Wharton performs. He should be an upgrade to Nate Livings, anything else is just the delicious icing on the cake.