Since he was signed in March, the expectation has been Andre Smith would compete to become the Cincinnati Bengals starting right guard. But on the second day of training camp, Smith was practicing at right tackle with the second team offense.
It confused many spectators in attendance, including Bengals reporters on the scene. Why the sudden change? Is this a long-term plan?
Bengals offensive line coach Paul Alexander attempted to explain why Smith was practicing at right tackle, the only position at which he’s played at the NFL level. You’d think if Smith truly is switching positions to right guard, the team would want to get him every rep possible at the position in an effort to prepare him to take over for Kevin Zeitler, who joined the Cleveland Browns this offseason.
"Early here in camp we're working with what we have,” Alexander said via Bengals.com. “We're looking at this, we're looking there, we're looking at matchups. Because usually, it's ones against ones . So today Trey (Hopkins) went with the first group. It doesn't do any good if Trey's always going against the second guy because you don't feel like you know how good he is. So OK, you go against Geno (Atkins) today. So that's what we're doing. We'll move them around so that different guys get a different chance to go against guys."
It makes sense to test guys like Trey Hopkins against better competition, such as Geno Atkins, but how is Smith going to learn a new position if he’s still practicing at his old position?
"Obviously, it's going to take some work," Alexander said. "(Smith) got all the reps in OTAs and all that kind of stuff, but right now we have to see what we have. He probably would benefit from taking every snap at right guard in camp, but for us, we have to see what we have."
Even Alexander is admitting it would be beneficial for Smith to practice solely at guard, so what gives?
Maybe the Bengals are truly going to have an open competition for the right guard spot and it wouldn’t be terrible to use Smith as a backup tackle, considering the lack of depth at both tackle positions. At tackle, the Bengals have third year players Jake Fisher (right tackle) and Cedric Ogbuehi (left tackle) with Eric Winston the anticipated backup.
This will be something to watch moving forward to see who gets the most snaps with the first team offense and if Smith continues to practice at the right tackle position.