While Cincinnati Bengals right tackle Andre Smith is centered around a debate for a long-term extension, though eliminated from franchise tag discussions, the starting left guard Andrew Whitworth is quietly rehabilitating a knee that's been an issue for two seasons. There's no concern about Whitworth missing time during training camp, though it appears highly unlikely that he'll participate during spring practices after having a procedure done last week, writes Geoff Hobson with Bengals.com. However Whitworth feels great.
"I thought it was a thing I could tough out, but it kind of wears on you," Whitworth says. "It was time to get it fixed and I feel great. I don't feel any different than the first day I played in the NFL."
Whitworth was a dominating presence in 2010, graded as the league's best offensive tackle according to Pro Football Focus. However he has since struggled as a run blocker during subsequent seasons.
"It affected me. There were practices I had to miss and it was hindering. I wasn't at a full percentage, but everybody has to play through stuff," he says. "I think where it really hurts is the training out of season. You're trying to keep it settled rather than pushing yourself like you're normally used to. You really have to change things training-wise."
"My goal is to keep playing as long as people still want you. I want to be a Bengal as long as they'll allow me to," Whitworth says. "But I think you have to earn that right. I think every year you have to have that in your mind. Every single season and every single offseason I have to earn my spot. That doesn't change for me. I'm excited to go do it again."