Because of rest and injuries, the Bengal offensive line is getting a variety of looks in OTAs. Now sitting out is right tackle Andre Smith, who's believed to be getting rest to allow other seldom-used guys to get more reps:
Andre Smith sitting out so should see plenty of Newhouse, Svitek at RT— Geoff Hobson (@GeoffHobsonCin) June 16, 2014
That's been the case through nine OTA workouts. Adding to the confusion has been projected starter Mike Pollak being out after injuring his knee in offseason training and hasn't participated in the offseason program to this point. His goal is to be 100% for the beginning of training camp.
Boling also feels like he’ll be ready to start practicing the first day of camp, less than seven months after his ACL surgery. That's optimistic to say the least, and we shouldn't count on seeing him extensively for the first few weeks of camp.
In the meantime, fourth-round pick Russell Bodine has gotten the majority of the work at center, while a variety of players have rotated through other spots. Andrew Whitworth has played left tackle and left guard with Marshall Newhouse filling in for him at tackle.
Also getting time at LG is Trey Hopkins, who could be an undrafted name to watch this summer:
"He’s a heck of an athlete. Long arms, strong," Paul Alexander said of Hopkins. "He just needs lots of footwork technique, but he’s got a lot of talent."
Still, Pollak is the favorite to start at center or guard when the preseason opener against the Kansas City Chiefs. Boling's rehab could hold him out until the regular season opens.
If that's the case, Bodine at center and Pollak at guard could be the ideal scenario. Either way, Pollak is fine with playing whatever position the Bengals need him too.
"I'm just ready, wherever they need me to go," Pollak said. "They brought in (Russell) Bodine and he's doing a great job and if they want to go with him at center, great, but I'm going to be ready to go at center or guard, wherever they need me."
Second-year lineman Tanner Hawkinson and TJ Johnson are unknown commodities up to this point, but Hawkison has impressed thus far in OTAs while getting some run with the starters at left guard.
"He obviously has tremendous quickness and athleticism," Alexander said. "He can pull and do things in space and he's gotten a little stronger. He's had to grow up in terms of filling out with strength and maturity. He's a little better than he was last year. He just needs reps now."
Here's just a few of the first-team o-line combinations that have been used in OTAs:
LT: Whitworth, LG: Hawkinson, C: Bodine, RG: Zeitler, RT: Smith
LT: Newhouse, LG: Whitworth, C: Bodine, RG: Zeitler, RT: Smith
LT: Whitworth, LG: Hopkins, C: Bodine, RG: Zeitler, RT: Newhouse
LT: Newhouse, LG: Hawkinson, C: Bodine, RG: Zeitler, RT: Smith