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Ryan Hewitt is hoping for a bigger role under Bill Lazor

Ryan Hewitt hasn’t been very involved after signing a contract extension with the Bengals prior to the 2016 season, but he hopes that changes with Bill Lazor overhauling the offense.

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NFL: Cincinnati Bengals Training Camp Kareem Elgazzar-USA TODAY Sports

The Bengals gave Ryan Hewitt a contract extension in 2016 to keep him in stripes until after the 2019 season. At the time, it seemed like a great deal. With Hue Jackson running the show, Hewitt was able to show his value as a blocker as well as in the passing game by catching 18 passes his first two seasons.

Since Hewitt signed the deal, though, he has seen his dramatic cut to his playing time as well as production. He has only caught four passes the past two seasons while barely playing 15 percent of the available snaps.

“I obviously have high expectations for myself and I’m a competitor, so I want to play as much as possible, but again, you can only do what is scripted for you and what you’re involved in,” Hewitt told Jim Owczarski and Paul Dehner Jr. of the Cincinnati Enquirer. “I’m not one to go make a big deal about that. I’m going to do what I’m told. But again, I want to play as much as possible.

“I re-signed and for a second I was thinking, hey, I might even get more involved, and it seemed like I went on the decline playing-time wise. It’s nice to potentially be really involved, back in playing and get some time and hopefully make some plays and get back to what I’m used to doing.”

It is unfortunate to see a guy like Hewitt who just wants to go out and prove his worth be given so little opportunity. Obviously, Ken Zampese didn’t have much of a plan to use Hewitt like Jackson did. It is even more surprising when you think how Zampese didn’t have as much talent to work onto the field in 2016 with the loss of Marvin Jones and Mohamed Sanu plus the injuries of Tyler Eifert and A.J. Green. It seems the Bengals new offensive coordinator Bill Lazor is excited about the idea of changing all that though.

“The fullback is a lost art to some degree. We just made an emphasis from the first day of practice to have some fullback involved every day,” Lazor said. “I think when you’re in that position you have to be able to have some versatility, and Ryan has proven that he can play tight end. Sometimes you have fullbacks who can double as halfbacks. He can double as a tight end. Not a halfback yet. I feel good about him. He’s a smart guy. He’s a tough guy. In practice, you can see if you put him in all those roles he doesn’t blink.”

It sounds like a bit of good and bad news for Hewitt with those comments. On one hand it shows that Lazor is open to the idea of having a fullback. That at least gives him a shot at the roster. It seem like Hewitt has some work to do to make that happen though. Adding that running back depth could be between what sees him have a larger role next season and possibly not making the roster altogether.

It is interesting that Lazor wants Hewitt to be able to double as a tight end. It makes sense though as it adds depth to the roster as well as opens up opportunities to move him around before the snap. The more the defense has to decipher the better. Hewitt could be one of those guys who you don’t know where he will end up once the huddle breaks.

“You watch what a lot of the players who played my position for his offenses, they’re very multiple-skilled guys who aren’t one-faceted blockers or route runners,” Hewitt said. “He kind of likes guys who can do it all, so that’s what I’m hoping I can bring to the table. Obviously I’m a little more run savvy, but I like to get out and catch the ball and do that thing, too. Hopefully I’m able to get some of that done this year.”

It seems that Hewitt understands the situation he is in, and it is motivating him to get to that level of play that gets him on the field more. If he succeeds then the Bengals will be a better team for it.