Cincinatti Bengals Offensive Line Already Bungled Up

Wayne BakerContributor IMay 8, 2009

CINCINNATI, OH - MAY 1:  First round draft pick Andre Smith #7 (R) of the Cincinnati Bengals battles with teammate Ryan Madison #61 during rookie minicamp at Paul Brown Stadium on May 1, 2009 in Cincinnati, Ohio.  (Photo by Mark Lyons/Getty Images)


Posted by Wayne Baker

Bengals fans are already wincing about an offensive line that looks like it won’t be able to have a glimmer of hope of keeping quarterback Carson Palmer remotely safe this season.

The Bengals have decided to say goodbye to mammoth left offensive tackle Levi Jones, 29, releasing him after six injury plagued seasons. The 6-5, 315-pounder was the 10th pick of the 2002 draft and the Bengals made him one of the highest paid tackles in the league.

Jones was an up and down player over the past six years. He was often injured and his lazy rehab efforts did not help mitigate the negative sentiment directed towards him by fans and the coaching staff. When the Bengals drafted Alabama offensive lineman Andre Smith this year, it was the beginning of the end for Jones.

Smith’s so-called natural position is left tackle, the spot previously occupied by Jones, but the Bengals coaching staff say they will reserve the right to move him to the right of the offensive line.

So if that is the case, why get rid of Jones so quickly?

“Look, Levi Jones made over $22 million here and refused the club’s demands that he allow them to help him get well enough to earn his contract money,” explained veteran Bengals announcer and former player, Bob Trumpy, during his weekly radio broadcast.

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Trumpy said that Jones often worked out with his own trainers in Arizona, but clearly was never the same after a 2005 Pro Bowl season.

“He wanted to be released probably more than the club wanted to let him go, but either way, it is a good thing,” Trumpy said.

The Bengals are hoping their offensive line will be a good thing this year as Carson Palmer returns after sitting out nearly all of last year with an injury.

Bengals fans are holding their breath, and so is Palmer, as the team now tries to revamp an offensive line that was the weak link in the NFL’s lowest rated offense last year.

“We have to protect Carson this year in order to have any chance of winning,” Head Coach Marvin Lewis said in an interview with Channel 12.  “I am confident with some of the players we have upfront.”

Some of the biggest battles for a spot on the roster will be on the offensive line Lewis said.

Besides Jones, two other starters from last year are gone.  Right tackle Stacy Andrews and center Eric Ghiaciuc departed via free agency.  Left guard Andrew Whitworth and right guard Bobbie Williams are the only holdovers from last year’s o-line.

Back-up guard Anthony Collins returns as well from a rookie season that saw him spend considerable time on the field as Jones’ replacement due to injury.

Lewis said several other players have been brought in to compete for spots on the roster that will hopefully boast a woeful offensive line.

As for Jones, he is now off to Seattle  in an attempt to secure a roster spot with the Seahawks.  Or at least a spot on their injured reserve list.

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