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Jay Gruden: Andre Smith's Absence This Offseason "Sends Wrong Message"

Bengals offensive coordinator Jay Gruden was one of the many staff members who addressed the media on Tuesday for the team's kickoff luncheon to Training Camp. One of the topics he addressed was offensive tackle Andre Smith's absence from offseason workouts.


It was no secret that one key to the Bengals' 2013 offseason plans was to retain offensive tackle, Andre Smith. Even with his issues in his first two seasons, Smith bounced back to be a productive player in the final two years of his rookie deal. When free agency commenced, Smith felt that he was owed a big pay day.

As the days and weeks passed, Smith barely got a sniff on the market. Reports had teams shying away from him because of those early weight and injury issues and the Bengals remained his only serious suitor. On the second day of the draft, word broke that Smith signed a three-year deal to stay with the club and man the right tackle spot. Needless to say, those surrounding Bengaldom were pleased with the move and praised the staff for getting it done.

Then, the workouts commenced. Smith was a no-show for OTAs and minicamp, fueling speculation that something was seriously wrong. Head coach Marvin Lewis played his absence close to vest, only conceding that Smith was dealing with "personal issues". When Nick Seuberling and I asked Geoff Hobson about the Smith situation on last week's WhoDeyWeekly podcast, he noted that he had still been working out back in Birmingham, Alabama and should be good to go for Training Camp.

Count offensive coordinator Jay Gruden as one of those not pleased with Smith's absence. Speaking at the luncheon to kick off Training Camp, Gruden briefly addressed the situation with Smith.

It's hard to disagree with that sentiment. If one to read between the lines, it also seems as if Gruden and Smith have had little contact with each other, given Gruden's question on Smith's conditioning. It has to be a little troubling that the offensive coordinator doesn't seem to have a pulse on what's going on with his starting right tackle, fresh off of a new contract.

We will know more at the end of this week when Smith is slated to report to camp. If Hobson's sources are correct on Smith's conditioning, we shouldn't have that much to worry about. Then again, Smith has had a roller coaster of a career so far, so nothing would surprise us at this point.