The Bengals did something unexpected on Sunday in New England when they benched starting right tackle Cedric Ogbuehi.
The first year starter has been the weakest link on a struggling Bengals offensive line, but even so, the Bengals have rarely given up on players, especially first round draft picks, making it a surprise to see Ogbuehi exit the Week 6 matchup.
But don’t expect Ogbuehi to be sitting on the bench against the Browns in Week 7. Marvin Lewis confirmed on Monday that Ogbuehi will resume his starting role on Sunday.
“Yes,” Lewis said quickly when asked during his Monday press conference if Ogbuehi would be starting next week. “We expect big things from Ced. We’re going to continue to coach him hard to get it done right, all the time. That’s what he’s expected to do.”
Through six weeks, Ogbuehi is not doing what he’s expected to do, unless what he’s expected to do is play below-average football. Pro Football Focus has Ogbuehi with a 43.3 grade, which is categorized as poor and a ranking as the 70th best tackle in the league out of 78 qualifying players. Whether you buy into PFF’s rankings or not, if you’ve been paying attention, you know Ogbuehi is not playing at the level expected from a starting tackle in the NFL.
But, Lewis is making excuses for his young tackle, saying bad games happen for everyone. Which, seeing how this offensive line has played this year, and how starting center Russell Bodine has played during his time in Cincinnati, is true.
“Every one of these young players has had that happen to him at some point. They all come back from it. They all expressed that to him. Russell (Bodine), Kevin (Zeitler), Clint (Boling) all expressed that,” Lewis said. “There has been some point in their career where they had to stand and watch somebody else do it for a bit to get the focus back in. It’s happened at other spots as well.”
That hasn’t exactly happened for Bodine as he’s never had to watch somebody else take his job during live game action (due to being benched). Bodine has been trusted through all of his downfalls and subpar play, up until he exited Sunday’s game in New England with an ankle injury. It was some sort of twisted irony to see Bodine go down just moments after Ogbuehi was benched, especially considering Bodine was showing signs of improvement this season. Bodine is now in a walking boot and has a sore ankle. It seems likely that T.J. Johnson will start at center this week against the Browns, but, we’ll see whether or not Bodine practices on Wednesday and Thursday, which will shed light on his availability.
“Being a young player it happens,” Ogbuehi told the Cincinnati Enquirer. “Guys go through it. Now you just keep going and getting better. Talking to all the guys really helps with positive thinking. I have confidence in myself. I know I’m going to get it fixed and every game get better.”
According to the Enquirer, Ogbuehi and Eric Winston, the veteran who replaced the first-year starter on Sunday, sat together on the plane home to Cincinnati and reviewed film. Hopefully, Ogbuehi can re-enter the starting lineup on Sunday against the Browns and show he’s better prepared than he’s ever been and ready for a competitive game of football.
“I just have to suck it up and move on and get better from it,” Ogbuehi said. “I have confidence in myself. I know I’m going to get it fixed and every game get better.”