As the deadline to re-sign right tackle Andre Smith before the draft draws closer, the Bengals will soon find themselves in an uncomfortable situation, forced to choose between acquiescing to Smith's demands or selecting a new right tackle in the upcoming draft. Barring a miraculous breakthrough in the negotiations, Smith appears to be all but gone, with a new tackle from the college ranks taking his place. Taking a brief walk down memory lane, however, reveals that there may in fact be a third option available to the team.
Speaking to Bengals.com, Andrew Whitworth urged people not to forget about Anthony Collins and Dennis Roland, both of whom helped the Bengals sweep the division in 2009 while Smith recovered from a broken foot.
"We've got a deep locker room. That's a really good feeling and it's something that gives us a little more confidence in our team," Whitworth said. "Anthony and Roland prepare every week and every year like they're going to be the guy themselves also. If something happened to myself or Dre, they're always prepared to be in there and always ready. I think in any of those situations they would be ready again."
A nice vote of confidence from the dean of the offensive line.
The smart money is still on the Bengals sticking with Smith or plundering the draft for a new tackle, but Collins did help the team to a 6-1 mark during his seven starts in 2009. Between the two backups, Collins is far more likely to take up Smith's mantle than the technically-sound, but oft-overmatched Roland. Roland is a mountain of a man at 6'9" (The Mountain That Blocks), but has had his share of struggles protecting the passer.
Ultimately, the Bengals have until Thursday to decide what to do about the right tackle position, when the commissioner steps to the podium of the Radio City Music Hall to declare the draft open.