December 20, 2014

Revisiting the O-Line

It was less than two weeks ago that I took a look at the offensive line, and since then there have been a number of changes. Several guys are gone, and new guys have taken their places. So the group warrants another look so we can stay current with the updates.

Offensive Line
Starter On The Roster Camp Battle Cut
Andrew Whitworth
Andre Smith
Travelle Wharton
Kevin Zeitler
Kyle Cook
Anthony Collins Dennis Roland
Matthew O’Donnell
Clint Boling
Otis Hudson
Reggie Stephens
Matt Murphy
Trevor Robinson
Landon Walker
Mike Ryan
Chris Riley
Ben Bojicic

The Departures. Three of the four cuts — Walker, Ryan and Riley — were due to failed physicals, three out of a total of five for the Bengals this year. With the number of fans who still twitch or hiss at the name of Antonio Bryant, it is good to know that the medical department is finding problems. Ben Bojicic was also waived.

The Additions. On Monday, the Bengals claimed Matt Murphy from the Indianapolis Colts. Murphy played tackle at UNLV, but the Bengals are listing him as a guard with the capacity to play center. At 6’4″ and 3-4 lbs, he is the size that the Bengals like. He looks to be a camp body with practice squad potential.

The Bengals also signed a familiar face in Reggie Stephens, who made the 53-man roster in 2010 but was de-activated on game days. He was waived last preseason when the team signed Mike McGlynn. (In hindsight, clearly not the best move.) At 6’3″ and 325 lbs, he is a big side of beef. He is also a guard with the potential to be the backup center.

The Bengals appear determined to upgrade the interior of the line. Eight of the 13 in the group are dedicated to the middle positions. With Cook the sure starter at center, and with Wharton and Zeitler the likely starters at guard, that leaves five guys hustling over a pair of backup spots.

As CFAs, Robinson and Murphy have tough roads for making the team because the other three have made the 53-man squad in the past two years.

However, the addition of Stephens makes for a very interesting camp battle, pitting him against Boling and Hudson. Stephens has the advantage of potentially being the backup center, and he is actually listed on the team’s site as a center. If Stephens makes the team, then Zeitler would be able to spend all of his time developing as a guard at the pro level. As Marvin says, that’s a good thing.

Which one of the three ends up being the odd man out is impossible to know right now. But one thing is sure: all three will be giving all they have to make the team, which makes the offseason all that much more interesting.