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Marvin Lewis talks offensive line, says Bobby Hart “checks all the boxes”

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Marvin Lewis says that he is not done evaluating the offensive line, but he likes what he sees in Bobby Hart.

NFL: International Series: New York Giants at Los Angeles Rams Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The countdown to football is winding down, and the Bengals are gearing up for their preseason opener against the Bears. For the first time since the Family Dey mock game on Saturday (and a shortened rain-filled practice on Tuesday), there will be football inside Paul Brown Stadium.

Marvin Lewis spoke with the media on Tuesday, and of course, the first issue Lewis addressed in his press conference concerned the offensive line.

“We haven’t played anybody,” he said, admitting that no one has clinched starting spots. “That wasn’t going to change your evaluations. What we’ve done up to date is not a true, clean evaluation.”

Lewis rolled out Bobby Hart at right tackle and Trey Hopkins at right guard for Saturday’s dress rehearsal, which is the closest to an actual game we have seen yet. Furthermore, these are the two “starters” that Lewis has listed on the recently released depth chart.

But he still hasn’t ruled anyone else out of contention. Jake Fisher or Cedric Ogbuehi might steal the right tackle spot from Hart, while Alex Redmond or Christian Westerman might do the same to Hopkins’ spot. It all depends on how the preseason goes.

Lewis and offensive line coach Frank Pollack will get a better evaluation during the preseason, so they have waited until then to make any lasting decisions. The live reps during a game, even a preseason game, are something they can’t replicate during practice without risking injury.

Even though Hart and Hopkins are going to the part of the first group of offensive linemen to play on Thursday, “there is not a first offensive line.” Lewis stated.

Expanding on the “first-team”, Lewis also stated “There will be people who extend beyond Andy.” So we should expect backup quarterback Matt Barkley to operate behind some of the first five lineman out there.

And even though Lewis hasn’t seen enough out of the offensive line, he likes what has seen out of Hart so far.

“He’s got the experience,” said Lewis, “and the chip on his shoulder. He’s a guy battling for a job, battling to be a starter. He’s a guy that checks all the boxes. He’s still a very young player, a good athlete, a big man, still has development ahead of him. That was the attraction to Bobby.”

The true test for Hart, and the rest of the team for that matter, will come on Thursday at 7 p.m. in Paul Brown Stadium. As Lewis said, we fully expect that “it will be fun out there Thursday night.”