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Paul Alexander on Kevin Zeitler: This year may be his biggest jump

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Bengals offensive guard Kevin Zeitler is putting in extra work after practice, redefining his diet and working as hard as ever to be the best OG in the NFL. Paul Alexander acknowledges it and thinks he'll have his best season yet.

Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

Since being drafted by the Cincinnati Bengals in 2012, offensive guard Kevin Zeitler has started 42 games (including the playoffs), ranked ninth among all offensive guards according to Pro Football Focus, and generated a cumulative score of 42.9 since 2012 -- trailing only Andrew Whitworth and Geno Atkins.

Zeitler, now entering his fourth season as Cincinnati's starting right guard, is a safe bet as a future Pro Bowler. Offensive line coach Paul Alexander believes that the best is yet to come for the Bengals OG. "We’ll see this year," said Alexander via Bengals.com. "I think he’s made a jump every year. He’s always been good and gotten better, but I think this year may be his biggest jump."

It's not for a lack of hard work either, as Dan Hoard writes:

Zeitler’s diligence was on display on Tuesday at the only Bengals’ practice this week that was open to reporters. After the team finished practicing, the 25-year-old stayed on the field with Alexander for nearly 30 minutes to do additional drills.

"Just a couple of breathing exercises with Paul," said Zeitler. "It keeps you calm and helps you see things. It’s been so long since we played football against actual people instead of dummies and it’s different. Sometimes having a little extra one-on-one time with the coach helps you put everything back in perspective."

"This last offseason I worked really hard," Kevin told me. "I did double-days for two straight months which actually put me in a bad position where I reached an overtraining phase. But I’ve healed from that and I’ve definitely put on some muscle. I got down to 12% body fat where I had a six pack showing for a while. Now I’m performance eating and having a few more carbs than I normally have."

One of the byproducts is the hope that Zeitler can stay healthy -- one of the chinks in his armor is injury. He missed four games in 2014 with a calf and another four in 2013 with a foot.

The Bengals exercised their fifth-year option on Zeitler earlier this year, keeping him in Cincinnati (at least) through 2016. The hope is that based on the Bengals' past experience with offensive lineman entering their fourth season, that Zeitler will exceed expectations and play even better than in years past in his fourth year with the team.