After the dust settles from free agency and the draft, teams feel that they are in a good place and are hopeful that they have filled any remaining needs that they had before those events began. Even so, there are no perfect teams in the NFL and there are always question marks that pop up. Be it a Training Camp battle that's rich with talent at a position, or a position that went unaddressed in the offseason, every team has some demons to face.
That's just the sentiment that Pete Prisco of CBS Sports echoed in a recent article. In it, Prisco asks pressing questions for all 32 teams, be it a major one or a minor one. For the Bengals, Prisco points to the muddled situation at center, where the team has two capable players that could start.
Who starts at center?
Both Trevor Robinson and veteran Kyle Cook started games last year. I actually thought the line played better when Robinson was on the field. He started weeks 9-15 but Cook came back from injury late to start in the playoffs. Those two should have a good camp battle to decide the starter.
Prisco's thoughts on Robinson seems to be a shared one amongst the Bengals faithful. After a deplorable first handful of games with last-minute free agent acquisition, Jeff Faine, the undrafted rookie Robinson stepped in and the team's offense got a boost. When Cook, the incumbent starter, returned to the lineup, there just wasn't the same effect.
The thing is, Cook was nursing a severe ankle injury last season. He was designated as the Bengals player placed on Injured Reserve that could return, which is a new caveat contained in the Collective Bargaining Agreement. While he was deemed ready and healthy enough to play, the question remained if he was truly a hundred percent when thrust back into the lineup. The performance didn't seem to indicate that.
Still, Cook has been an effective starter since taking over for "the human turnstile", Eric Ghiacuic back in mid-2008. The running game renaissance that took place in 2009 was largely in part to Cook's play and he seemed to have a good rapport with both Carson Palmer and Andy Dalton.
The only major addition the team made to the position was seventh round selection, T.J. Johnson out of South Carolina. He'll be grinding for a spot, though it's not likely that he'll beat out either Cook or Robinson. The center position is quite important for communication and continuity purposes, so the answer to this remaining question is key to the Bengals' success.