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CHRONICLE: Tanner Hawkinson isn't ready, workouts Tuesday and a possible linebacker signing?

We take a look at a handful of issues on Cincinnati's off-day. Clint Boling and Marshall Newhouse are candidates at right tackle, but maybe not solutions? We're expecting a handful of players to workout on Tuesday, but expecting the team to sign a linebacker... right?

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

From the 2:35 mark in the first quarter until the clock showed 46 seconds remaining in the second quarter, Cincinnati had pulled Marshall Newhouse from the game and replaced him with Clint Boling. Backup offensive lineman Mike Pollak replaced Boling at left guard. Before some of you apply the dramatic need to finalize something before it's appropriate (like calling a fifth-round offensive lineman a bust after only 1.5 seasons... more on that later), know this:

1) The Bengals were experimenting with Boling at right tackle against Tampa Bay. Considering that the next four games are against the Pittsburgh Steelers (week 14 and 17), Cleveland Browns (week 15) and Denver Broncos (week 16), when would you have a better opportunity to experiment with configurations on the offensive line? It's not like the 2-9 Buccaneers will pose a challenge. Har-har.

2) There are currently no starting right tackles... only candidates. Quit being so maddening cryptic, ah-ght? Jacob? At least, according to Hue Jackson, these candidates are serviceable enough to play.

"We feel like we have two candidates there that you feel good about that can go into a game and actually play. Where we go from there we'll make that decision as we go," Jackson said Monday via "I’m trying to find the five best guys that can play at a high level. If it means Boling being over there, great. If it means Marshall Newhouse is the answer, great. Whoever they are we have to put them out there and play."

It's week 14. If you don't have an answer today, you won't have an epiphany tomorrow.

Why not Tanner Hawkinson, former fifth-round pick from the 2013 NFL draft?

"Jackson indicated it’s because he doesn't have the game experience," writes Geoff Hobson, which is complete bullshit.

Coaches that want to find playing time for their best players, will find ways to make it happen. Hawkinson has been with the Bengals for two f***ing years. Cincinnati's game against the Steelers this weekend will be the 30th that he's been around for. Yet, he's played four games and 10 snaps in his NFL career. You couldn't make one game happen? One half?

If you want to give him experience, how else is he going to get it? We're not saying that the Bengals should force it either... if he's not qualified, he's not qualified. But doesn't it seem like a wasted spot on a limited roster that could be used for an active backup lineman?

Expecting workouts on Tuesday -- signing a linebacker?

Speaking of which, let's lock away the surprised look on our faces when the Bengals host a handful of players on Tuesday... the day that teams use to invite free agents for workouts. Cincinnati could invite other offensive linemen to solidify the instability at right tackle but unless they release Jamon Meredith because someone impressed them, we're not seeing a signing.

Linebacker? Actually, we're primarily thinking linebacker. Cincinnati placed special teams backer Jayson DiManche, who suffered a forearm fracture, on season-ending IR Monday without a corresponding move. A spot is available and if you factor Vontaze Burfict's slow recovery, Cincinnati only has five healthy linebackers -- Rey Maualuga, Vincent Rey, Emmanuel Lamur, Marquis Flowers and Nico Johnson.

They need someone.

Two weeks ago, the Bengals worked out linebackers Terrell Manning, L.J. Fort and Jake Knott. Cincinnati signed Manning, but he left after only a week when the New York Giants signed him to their 53-man roster. Fort was signed afterward to replace Manning on the practice squad.

From that trio of workouts... that leaves Knott.

Unless the team signs Fort to the 53-man roster, we're not seeing Cincinnati signing Knott. Why sign Fort initially to the practice squad and then Knott to the 53-man roster a week later? That's maddeningly illogical. We're also not completely above planting that seed.

Sigh... media.

There's mad respect for players and coaches that actually say something that hasn't already been indexed in the "talking points" rolodex. Unfortunately, when that happens, it usually leads to an apology... but the appreciation is there. The multi-billion industry that the NFL has become is so robotic that the common interest between sport and fan is significantly widening, it's hilarious. During a press conference on Monday, San Francisco 49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh said that "he's not worried about his future." That's hilarious. You know who doesn't say sh*t like that? Mostly all of us. Is there any commonality anymore?

Coaches like offensive coordinator Hue Jackson are honest in their assessments and that's refreshing. It's also important to note that Jackson is very intelligent and knows how to control this information... he's probably aware on how it will be distributed. Thus, we are dogs to the schemes of coaches. Jackson is aware that this will get back to Jeremy Hill... who provided an honest response to a question following Sunday's game.

"They game-planned it pretty well," Jeremy Hill said via "They brought a safety down. Whenever we caught them in a two-[safety]-high, we ran the ball pretty well. When Andy made his checks, they kind of brought the safety down."

The next day, Jackson went off (via ESPN):

"Jeremy don't play quarterback. What Jeremy needs to do is run the ball. What Jeremy wants to do -- I don't care if it's eight men or seven men -- break tackles, OK? That's what running backs do. They break tackles and that's it. At the end of the day, his job is to run through somebody and come out the other side and go find a way to score, period. So all his drop-down, who did this, did what -- that ain't his call."

We're pretty sure that Jackson instructed Hill to not talk to the media about this stuff. Use this rolodex of talking points over here. Tab it as a rookie lesson and move on.

I used to blame the media. I felt that they were my conduit to this team, asking questions that I felt needed to be asked and providing a picture that needed to be photographed. I don't blame the media. Not anymore. Having access and selling subscriptions is the most important thing... it's always been that way.

Slinging the Sling