Bengals OTA'S Start With a Surprise
The Bengals had their first organized team activity of the season and it came with a pretty significant twist.
The offensive line came out with Andrew Whitworth at left tackle, Nate Livings at left guard, Kyle Cook at center, Bobbie Williams at right guard and Andre Smith at right tackle.
The shocker is the left tackle-left guard arrangement. Most pundits and fans assumed Anthony Collins, who started at left tackle for the final six games of last season as a rookie, would be the man protecting Carson Palmer's blindside. However, the coaching staff chose to move Whitworth, who started ten games as a rookie at left tackle, out one spot and insert Whitworth's former LSU teammate, Nate Livings, at left guard.
Livings played well last season in the final six contests taking the place of the injured Whitworth. However, he was the third string option at left guard and wouldn't have gotten those starts if Scott Kooistra hadn't immediately gone down with an injury as well.
A great deal of faith from the coaching staff must have been put on Livings' six games as a starter. An apparently unwavering faith since Marvin Lewis seems set in having Whitworth and Smith as his tackles.
"I feel real good about Andrew and what he can do on the other side," Lewis said. "I feel like that kind of locks us down for a lot of years for two very key spots as long as I'm here."
Lewis better feel good about those key spots because last year's protection resembled that of a cheap generic brand of deodorant. Another 50-plus sack season and Palmer's health insurance deductible will rival my salary, and Marvin and company will be looking for another job.
The move of Andre Smith from left to right tackle may be surprising for some but the skill set of the right tackle position better suits Smith's run blocking prowess. The argument can be made that he has never played right tackle, but then again, he has technically never played left tackle either.
Kyle Cook will be penciled in as the starting center as expected, but that position remains as unsettled as any because of the lack of NFL experience. The good news is whoever earns the starting spot will be an upgrade over the center of last season, Eric Ghiaciuc, who has now signed with the Chiefs in an effort to torture Matt Cassel.
The confidence the coaching staff has placed in the current starting five seems to be a departure from last season, when the coaching staff experimented with players in different positions like promiscuous sorority members. But one thing is for certain, Ryan Seacrest won't be hosting Hard Knocks.
"It's not going to be American Idol," offensive line coach Paul Alexander said.
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