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Brian Callahan details plans for Hakeem Adeniji, D’Ante Smith, and Trey Hill

Cincinnati’s offensive coordinator speaks on his backup offensive linemen.

NFL: SEP 30 Jaguars at Bengals Photo by Ian Johnson/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

80% of the Cincinnati Bengals’ offensive line is set for the 2022 season. What remains is a battle at the left guard spot, and a platoon of young reserves; Hakeem Adeniji, D’Ante Smith, and Trey Hill being the most notable of the backups.

That trio played a combined 1,048 snaps last season. If all goes to plan, that number should drop dramatically this year.

Offensive coordinator Brian Callahan isn’t putting any of those three in a box as they enter this offseason program, but he does envision them having centralized roles. For Smith, he’ll get more reps at tackle, while Adeniji and Hill will be focusing on interior positions.

Hearing this about Adeniji is the biggest surprise. Cincinnati drafted him out of Kansas as a tackle, the position he played for all four years in college. He exclusively played tackle as a rookie in 2020.

When Adeniji took over at right guard last year, the results were mixed at best and ugly at worst. His lack of play strength and anchoring ability really hurt him and the offense when he faced formidable defensive tackles.

Keeping Adeniji on the outside where he has more experience seems like the clear answer, but the current roster setup is a factor here. The Bengals only have three guards on the team right now, and Adeniji would make it four. By keeping Smith at tackle, they’re equipped with better depth on the outside, so Adeniji staying inside might be an answer to their lack of depth.

Smith was also a collegiate tackle, but he found himself in the battle for right guard last training camp. He very well may’ve won it had he not gotten injured in late August. When he finally returned to full strength, he became the backup left tackle and played there in Week 18.

Callahan made it clear that while Smith will get more work at that spot, he is still very much in play to compete for the left guard job with Jackson Carman.

When it comes to Hill, he was drafted as a center, but he also played guard in college as well. He’ll be the favorite to backup Ted Karras in the middle as an active reserve, and he might just get a look or two at left guard if Carman and Smith aren’t up to snuff.

Though there’s a level of uncertainty remaining at offensive line, the Bengals aren’t expected to add to the position group early in next week’s NFL Draft, though a guard may be added sometime after the first two rounds. The starter at left guard will be figured out during camp, and all the other roles will fall into place.