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Bill Lazor waiting until padded practices to make any decision about Bengals offensive line

Bill Lazor will likely have to make a couple tough decisions about the right side of his offensive line, but he is refraining from factoring too much of what he saw from minicamp into those decisions.

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NFL: Cincinnati Bengals at Pittsburgh Steelers Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Probably what Bengals fans will be watching the closest the rest of the offseason and until Week 1 of the regular season is the competition at the right side of the offensive line.

It will end up being one of offensive coordinator Bill Lazor’s biggest decisions. The left and center of his line seems decided with Cincinnati trading back in the first round to obtain Cordy Glenn at left tackle, Clint Boling has maintained his solid play at left guard and the rookie center Billy Price has been medically cleared.

However, the right side is full of competition, but Lazor won’t let what he saw from minicamp sway his decision.

“You really have to resist the temptation to evaluate the line without pads on,” Lazor told Paul Dehner Jr. of the Cincinnati Enquirer. “It’s a real temptation for all the coaches, the players. I’m not saying you can’t evaluate their smarts, their play speed, but until the pads come on, don’t make any decisions up front. I really think that’s a temptation you have to resist.”

This quote should really be in the head of every offensive lineman competing for a spot on that right side. Even if they didn’t put their best foot forward in OTAs, they still have a chance, and for the guys who played well, they need to realize that they don’t have a spot just yet.

It does make total sense though to do this by Lazor. Offensive linemen often use opponents’ pads to their advantage in blocking. Even if it wasn’t an advantage for offensive linemen, it is the way the game is played in full pads. It could have an impact on how well some guys move. Lazor does want to get his starting five decided as soon as possible.

“The sooner the better,” Lazor said. “But to me, there’s no time frame. I’m resisting the temptation to evaluate. Anything other than the things you can. Some guys when the pads come on and you can say, OK, this is why that guy was a good player.“

The early reports is that the Bengals’ new offensive line coach, Frank Pollack, has had quite the impact on players like Cedric Ogbuehi and Jake Fisher, who were high draft picks, but they haven’t showed above average play quite yet. We haven’t heard anything bad yet about guys like Christian Westerman, Alex Redmond or Bobby Hart, so it is still anyone’s competition.

Lazor also knows that the team really can’t afford to play favorites after having such a rough season last year upfront. It was so rough to start out the Bengals fired Ken Zampese, which gave Lazor the opportunity to try his hand at offensive coordinator for 14 weeks with the Bengals.

When you really look at the 0-3 start and how the team finished 7-9, you have to wonder if the changes had been made sooner if we’d be talking about a different ending to the season.