Remember when the Pittsburgh Steelers had offensive line problems? Boy those were good times. Ben Roethlisberger really got a lot of exercise behind the line of scrimmage back in those days. Since then, he’s had to hire a personal trainer in the offseason to keep up his figure since he was getting the ball out quicker and didn’t have to run around so much.
Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton, however, better prepare for some cardio this year, because his offensive line is increasingly looking like it could be a handful. Not only have injuries struck a significant blow to what they are aiming for, they have added retirements and indecision into the mix as well.
The big blow was the injury to first-round rookie Jonah Williams, who was expected to be a plug-and-play left tackle. Clint Boling was also going to be an option somewhere along the line, especially after Williams was injured, moving Cordy Glenn back from left guard to left tackle, but he retired.
And then Christian Westerman, another candidate for that guard position, retired recently as well. Third-year veteran Kent Perkins also retired. He spent most of his career to the practice squad but was more likely to make the 53-man roster outright this year.
Equally concerning has been the team’s drafting. They drafted two tackles in the first and second rounds in 2015, Cedrick Obguehi and Jake Fisher, and neither of them worked out, which is why they have a patchwork offensive line now.
Meanwhile, 2018 first-round center Billy Price almost seems as though his job is not secure. He spent some time running second-team this offseason, and recently even worked a bit at guard while that position continues to remain wide open.
Meanwhile, Glenn is out with a concussion, and that has resulted in Andre Smith playing time at left tackle. Smith, a former long-time starter at right tackle, has been relegated to being a backup in recent years, and doesn’t have experience on the left side. Bobby Hart is penned in at the right tackle position.
John Jerry and Trey Hopkins, in addition to rookie Michael Jordan, appear to be the primary candidates for the left guard position. March free agent signing John Miller is at right guard after making 47 starts over the past four years—every game he’s dressed—for the Buffalo Bills.
By the time the regular season begins, the line should look something like this: Glenn – Jerry – Price – Miller – Hart. That’s not the most fearsome group in the league. And their depth will consist of some combination of Smith, Jordan, Hopkins, and perhaps O’Shea Dugas.
To make matters worse, none of the possibly line combinations within the players mentioned above will have gotten much time to work together. Both Glenn and Price have missed time with injuries, while left guard has been a turnstile, personnel-wise. Could Dalton be in for a long season? It’s certainly a distinct possibility.