Over the course of the last—well, a good long while—the Cincinnati Bengals have, more than most, allowed a lot of their talent to walk in free agency. Among those who they let find a new home in free agency in 2016 that isn’t talked about all that much was veteran right tackle Andre Smith, knowing that they drafted two tackles with their first two draft picks just last year.
That was, of course, part of the plan, but growing pains are also part of the reality, and second-year former first-round draft pick Cedric Ogbuehi is far from solidified in his starting spot at right tackle. In fact, the coaching staff even had him rotating with veteran Eric Winston on Sunday, and, while the snap distribution heavily favored the young man, Winston looked like the better option of the two.
According to the numbers, Ogbuehi played 51 snaps, and he allowed two sacks in those snaps, while Winston only played 10 snaps, but one of those snaps produced a long touchdown run. Part of the reason for the stark snap distribution in spite of the rotation is the fact that Winston’s drives were simply shorter, and Ogbuehi’s longer, but Ogbuehi was still roughly playing two drives for every drive Winston played.
Still, it’s not always a good sign when the coaching staff is suggesting that you rotate with another player when you’re expecting to be a starter. The Steelers flirted with this early in the 2013 season, and that eventually resulted in Kelvin Beachum moving into the starting lineup by the fifth game of that year.
According to Ogbuehi, he believes that the bulk of his struggles stems from a lack of functional strength in his passing set against the bull rush, against which he allowed both of his sacks on Sunday, and he said that he wants to add about 15 pounds during the offseason.
“I think as I get older and gain more weight the bull (rush), naturally, I’ll set that down easier”, he said. He added, as part of it, is also “technique, and I think as I get older I’ll get bigger and be able to set that down easier”.
Ogbuehi did acknowledge that there are some technical aspects to work out, talking about getting his hand placement fixed and leaving the weight gain for the offseason, since that is not something that he can really fix during the course of play.
He did say that he doesn’t think he’s necessarily struggling in adjusting to the spread offense that he played in college to the Bengals’ traditional pro-style offense, instead saying that it has been the practice time he’s missed that has been a bigger factor, as he came into the league rehabbing an ACL injury.
For now, it appears he is going to be spending a few series on his Sundays standing next to his offensive line coach watching somebody else play his position, in the hopes that watching a veteran do it live, standing next to his coach, will provide valuable on-the-fly education.