Losing Center Kyle Cook Is a Major Blow to the Cincinnati Bengals Offense

Andrea HangstFeatured Columnist IVAugust 28, 2012

Can any other center provide the Bengals with this level of leadership and communication?
Can any other center provide the Bengals with this level of leadership and communication?Grant Halverson/Getty Images

Last Thursday, against the Green Bay Packers, Cincinnati Bengals center Kyle Cook injured his foot. He had that foot in a boot on Friday but claimed the Bengals" target="_blank">injury wasn't serious, and he was apparently out of the boot on Sunday.

Monday, it was revealed that Cook was to visit a specialist regarding the foot and was not expected to play in this week's preseason closer against the Indianapolis Colts—undrafted rookie Trevor Robinson would take Cook's spot.

Now, apparently, the Bengals will be giving a tryout on Tuesday to veteran free agent center Jeff Faine—most recently with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers—and, should they sign him, make him their starter. Upon speaking with Cook today, Bengals.com's Geoff Hobson seems to believe that Cook's season is over.

If this is indeed the case, this is some of the absolute worst news the Bengals could hear at practically the very worst time to hear it.

Cook has started the last 66 regular season and postseason games in a row—tied for the most consecutive starts for any player currently on the roster—and this would have been his fourth straight year as the Bengals' center.

Though this will be Faine's 10th season in the NFL, which means he does have significant experience as a starting center, that's little comfort. Centers are the most important member of any team's offense—they get the quarterback the ball, they read the defensive line in front of them and communicate with the rest of the offensive linemen, and they work over time to build a strong level of trust with the men around them.

If the Bengals sign Faine, it will be back to square one. He'll need to rapidly get up to speed with quarterback Andy Dalton and the rest of his offensive linemen, and he'll have to undergo a crash course in the Bengals offense just two weeks before the start of the regular season.

This is a young team that greatly benefited from having a reliable center like Cook on the field game after game. To switch things up with Faine or anyone else right now is a very significant setback that could very well alter the way the offense performs, at least through the beginning of the upcoming season.

The other option would be to keep Robinson as the center, but that means the Bengals would have two rookie offensive linemen starting inside, which is extremely risky.

Just when teams are trying to solidify their starting rosters, the Bengals now have to make a major change at an important position. While there's never a good time for a starting center to suffer a serious, potentially season-ending injury, having this happen on the cusp of the season opener is some of the worst timing imaginable.