Part of the beauty of the Cincinnati Bengals’ recent NFL Draft strategy has been in their usage of foresight. Because of both a checkered past and an expiring contract from right tackle Andre Smith, as well as increasing age with Andrew Whitworth, the team used their top two picks in their 2015 class on offensive tackles.
Cedric Ogbuehi was their selection in the first round last year, with Jake Fisher being the choice in the second round as remedies to the above-mentioned issues. Unfortunately, both players were injured early on this preseason, with Ogbuehi battling a toe injury from the opener and Fisher getting dinged up in Week 2 against the Lions. Neither have played since their respective issues, but they did return to practice on Labor Day, and it appears that the worry fans had at the position should be quelled going into the regular season.
While it was a frustrating strategy, it was a wise one, given the amount of overall ailments the team suffered throughout the summer. And, while the Jets are facing their own issues at right tackle with starter Breno Giacomini landing on the PUP List to start the year, Ogbuehi sounds like he’s set for next Sunday.
"Yeah. I think I'm good. I think I'm ready,” Ogbuehi proclaimed. "It's real exciting. New York, 9-11, it' s a big deal. I'm ready for it."
Though it will be undoubtedly talked about more as the week rolls on, Ogbuehi makes a good point about the emotional pendulum swinging towards the Jets’ favor. Obviously, the 15-year anniversary of the 9-11 terrorist attacks is one the team and its fans can rally around, as well as it being their home opener for a talented team on the first week of the season. In short, it’s a tough Week 1 matchup for the Bengals and Ogbuehi, but he has still been working, even though he hasn’t been playing in games.
"Just keep watching that film," he continued. "I watched it (Sunday) actually. Just keep watching and learn from that, learn my mistakes from that game and continue watching film on the Jets and just keep getting better every day."
As we look at the film from the only game Ogbuehi played in this preseason, there were highs and lows. After flashing as an extra tackle at the end of 2015 in jumbo packages, his extensive snaps against the Vikings in the preseason opener showed both his athleticism and the raw clay that still need to be molded.
For instance, look at this run early in the second quarter. He has a little bit of help on the right side in the form of two tight ends, yet Ogbuehi’s man gets by him and blows up the run play for a loss.
Opposingly, his athleticism also allows him to have an impact, even without much NFL experience. For instance, on this 2nd and 7 play midway in the first, Ogbuehi engages two defenders to help spring Giovani Bernard for a 6-yard gain and a subsequent first down conversion one play later. Ogbuehi shoved the guy, who finally brought down Bernard, a handful of yards down the field upon engagement.
Even though the team will undoubtedly experience ups and downs with Ogbuehi manning the right tackle spot for the first time, he’s shown enough to have the coaching staff excited at the team’s draft decision last year. His path to becoming another sound tackle in the franchise’s lineage at the position begins Sunday in New York.