When the Cincinnati Bengals selected Cedric Ogbuehi in the first round of the 2015 NFL Draft, he joined the team while recovering from ACL surgery. Ogbuehi tore his ACL in his final college game and spent all of his first offseason in Cincinnati recovering, as well as more than half of his rookie season.
In 2016, Ogbuehi again didn’t participate in early offseason training due to a sports hernia that kept him off-the-field during Offseason Training Activities (OTAs). Now entering his third season with the team, Ogbuehi is finally going to participate in OTAs and is excited for the opportunity.
“It’s something I’m really excited to do,” Ogbuehi told Jay Morrison of My Dayton Daily News. “It will be good to get out there and get reps and have that camaraderie with everybody and not have to be with Nick (director of rehabilitation Nick Cosgray).”
Ogbuehi is going to be heavily relied on this season as he steps into the starting left tackle job. This, after a poor 2016 season at right tackle during which he was benched after 11 games in the starting spot. He then went on to start one game at left tackle as a trial run at the position. In 2017, he’s expected to take on the role of protecting Andy Dalton’s blindside full time and considering what we saw from him last year, quite a bit of improvement will be needed.
“Being able to work with (offensive line coach Paul Alexander) and learning and getting reps will be big,” Ogbuehi added. “The more reps you get the better you become.”
Ogbuehi believes playing on the left side of the line will come more naturally. That should certainly be the hope after the team let Andrew Whitworth walk in free agency, essentially handing the job to Ogbuehi, despite last year’s performance. 2016 saw Ogbuehi earn a 30.4 PFF grade, which ranked him 70th among all offensive tackles.
“Playing left tackle, it’s a place I love to be,” Ogbuehi said. “I’m excited to go out there and just play.”
The pressure now should be on for Ogbuehi as he earns back the trust of Bengals fans (and coaches) and proves he deserves his starting role. But, Ogbuehi doesn’t quite see it that way as he has confidence in himself to get the job done.
“The only pressure is on myself to be the kind of player I know I can be and to keep working hard and go out there show everything, show that technique I use in practice on the field on game day,” Ogbuehi said. “Right now I’m trying to concentrate on slowing it down and trying to get my technique right and getting the feel for everything.”
The success of the offensive line could make or break the Bengals’ offense this year and Ogbuehi’s ability to rise to the occasion will be a big part of that.