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Bengals offensive coordinator Bill Lazor says Ryan Hewitt is ‘smart enough, versatile enough’

Ryan Hewitt should have a clear role carved out in Bill Lazor’s offense.

Cincinnati Bengals v Tampa Bay Buccaneers Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

The Bengals are undergoing major changes on offense during the offseason. Bill Lazor was retained as offensive coordinator after taking over for Ken Zampese who was fired after the Bengals failed to score a touchdown through the first two weeks of the 2017 season. The big change is coming in the form of Lazor completely overhauling the offense for the first time since Jay Gruden came to town.

This change could either be great or catastrophic for fullback Ryan Hewitt. He was once a major part of the Bengals offense during the Hue Jackson era, but fell out of favor under Zampese’s offense. Considering Lazor ran the offense for most of last season without utilizing Hewitt, and he comes from several offenses that didn’t really use fullbacks that often, Hewitt’s spot on the roster could be in question. However, it seems Lazor likes the versatility he has seen from Hewitt. So much so that he even had Hewitt play a few first team reps at tight end on Tuesday when Tyler Eifert was out dealing with an injury.

“A big part of the thing is we’re committed to being able to play football a lot of different ways,” Lazor told Geoff Hobson of “Some of that is one-back, some of it is two-back. You need the right guy to do that. He’s smart enough. He’s versatile enough. When I got here (in 2016) I was told he was a tough, smart kid.”

And that he is, which is why it’s been so odd to see Hewitt hardly playing during the last two seasons. Hewitt played just 11.02% of offensive snaps in 2017.

“Some teams we play, you can see they see him as a fullback,” Lazor said. “But a lot of teams we play aren’t sure because we move him around a little bit.”

This is great news for Hewitt’s hopes of remaining on the Bengals’ roster in 2018. We should expect to see several plays where Hewitt is motioned between either a running back spot next to Andy Dalton or the tight end position. Being able to shift into your final formation at the last second is a huge advantage for the offense. Not to mention, Hewitt being in the huddle and defenses not knowing where he will end up is nice for personnel purposes. It could create some nice mismatches.

Hewitt is even more excited about the new running scheme Bengals’ offensive line coach Frank Pollack has brought from Dallas.

“He’s more old school style. Watching Dallas film, you get a feel for it,” Hewitt said of Pollack. “It’s stuff I like doing and stuff I think can help me create holes for the running back. It’s the stuff I was doing my first couple years that we got a little bit away from. So hoping to get back to that.”

Everyone associated with the Bengals is hoping Pollack can help the team’s run offense get out of the basement of the NFL. Last season the Bengals finished 31st in the NFL in rushing, which is unacceptable with running backs like Joe Mixon and Giovani Bernard. Hewitt was a huge part of Jeremy Hill’s successful rookie season in which the former LSU running back rushed for more than five yards per carry. Maybe he could help Mixon, too.

Either way, it’s exciting to hear that we could be seeing more of Hewitt in 2018. Hopefully it helps lead to an offensive resurgence.