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Andre Smith to Play in His First Preseason Opener

And on top of that, he's set to start!

What is happening?

Yes, for the first time in his short career, Andre Smith, who has long been the butt of every fat joke in Cincinnati, will not only be participating in the team's preseason opener, but he'll be lining up as the team's starting right tackle. It's about time.

Smith's transformation began this offseason, when reports came in that Smith had shed weight and would likely work out with the team in Georgetown for the first time in his career. After a solid couple weeks with the team at training camp where Smith decided he wants to prove his naysayers wrong and his head coach Marvin Lewis said that he thinks Smith can be great, Smith is finally where he belongs and he's ready.

"I think I'm really, really prepared," Smith said. "I'm just ready to go out there and have fun and do what I'm supposed to do."

It isn't just the coaches that have noticed Smith's attitude off the field and his play on the field. Bengals left tackle and team leader Andrew Whitworth likes what he sees from the right side of the line.

"He's looking fresh and working hard to be the players that he had the goal to be when he came out of college."

Out of college, Smith was considered one of the most talented offensive linemen, and was especially dominant in the run game. He's still got a long way to go, but he's on his way of living up to his college reputation and his No. 6 overall pick.

For the Bengals to be successful in 2011, they're going to need Smith to be what he was in college.

And by what he was in college, I mean this: