The Cincinnati Bengals came into the workout portions of the offseason understanding that their biggest question is going to be their offensive line. A good bit of the way into training camp, they are realizing that it is still a major question, and they are still searching for the five right answers.
It was assumed that they would already have most of the answers in-house. Andrew Whitworth would be replaced with Cedric Ogbuehi, who was drafted in the first round a couple years ago. Jake Fisher, drafted in the second round the same year, would take over at right tackle. They brought in Andre Smith to take over Kevin Zeitler’s position at right guard.
Then all three strings of their offensive line ended up giving up double-digit sacks over a course of 50 or so plays during a Friday scrimmage, with every line to blame. So what exactly are they going to do in order to attempt to address the issues that they are facing?
The only thing offensive line coach Paul Alexander can really do is to continue to try to move players around. The most notable moving piece has been Trey Hopkins, a second-year veteran who has been around since 2014 since coming out of Texas as an undrafted free agent.
Hopkins got work with the first-team during Friday’s scrimmage at both left and right guard, as well as at center. There certainly seems to be movement raising the possibility that he could end up in the starting lineup by the time the season starts. I’m not sure whether that says more about him or the rest of the line.
But he is a player that they have liked for some time. He has had to deal with injuries in the interim that have limited him. He broke his leg, which had been previously broken, and that resulted in him being cut and kept on the practice squad. He was on the roster last year, but only active for one game.
“I have always liked him. He’s always done a good job”, his position coach said of him. He even gave Hopkins a few snaps at left tackle.
If there is a hidden card for the Bengals to play along their offensive line that many casual observers might not know about, it could prove to be him. Not that he is going to single-handedly provide them much-needed stability. And for the time being, the pieces will keep moving.
“Until we get five guys that establish themselves”, said Alexander of when he’ll settle on five. “See what we got. I prefer five guys when five guys earn a spot”. Evidently they have not reached that point as of yet.