We figured a few days ago when the Bengals decided to move Jason Shirley from defensive tackle to offensive guard, that Shirley was basically put on the clock. Since the team believed enough in Pernell Phillips, along with Domata Peko, Pat Sims and Tank Johnson, the team felt strongly that defensive tackle was stocked and that Shirley would have been the odd man out. A benefit of moving Shirley to guard, is that if the team finds itself suddenly short-handed during a game, he can hop to the other side of the ball. Hopefully he doesn't actually hop. That's not a manly thing to do.
Rather than setting him up to be released before the regular season, the Bengals felt his best chance to stay with the team was to move him to offense. "In order for him to have an opportunity to stay here in the NFL, his best bet, at least on this team, was to make that move," Marvin Lewis said during Wednesday's press conference. "As we looked at him and watched him, he does things that are more characteristic of an offensive lineman than a defensive lineman, and maybe there’s a niche for him there."
In the little time that Shirley's had to make the transition, he's convincing Lewis that he could, at least, be a project/developmental player.
“He has really embraced that opportunity, and proved that maybe he has some value to stay here and be a developmental guy over there on the offensive side. He’s trying to study and get up to speed as quickly as he can, I don’t know if he will get the chance to play on the offensive side any this week, but he may take some snaps on the defensive side.”
The Bengals have always held onto project/developmental players, sometimes longer than fans have felt they should have. Stacy Andrews is the most notable project player when he was drafted in 2004, playing in spots until he made his first start in 2006. Outside Linebacker and Defensive End Eric Henderson was a project player until the team tired of being constantly injured, releasing him earlier this year.