When it comes to the Bengals lineup in recent years, the one player you could always count on being in the lineup has been tackle Andrew Whitworth.
He’s started the last 67 games that the Bengals have played and missed just six games since joining the team in 2006, giving their offensive line an anchor and allowing the team to worry about other positions while knowing they were set with Whitworth on the left side (at guard and now at tackle) of the offensive line. Whitworth hasn’t been on the field for the last three practices, however, as he takes things slowly with a knee that was surgically repaired in February.
“The thing you can’t simulate is football. It’s getting out there and doing football, and with something like this — it’s a tendon — it has to do something and adjust and then do a little more and then adjust,” Whitworth said, via Joe Reedy of the Cincinnati Enquirer. “That’s what we will do. It’s just like anything else, you have to develop the strength in it. This is kind of the first step in football. We’ll progress through that.”
Bengals coach Marvin Lewis said that he wants to be sure Whitworth is strong enough to hold up to the demands of a long drive or a game with 70-plus offensive snaps while Reedy reports offensive line coach Paul Alexander is concerned about rustiness, which pretty well sets up the question the Bengals and other teams have to deal with when it comes to veteran players coming off surgery and/or injury. How much preseason work is enough to make sure the player has the stamina for the regular season while also protecting against a setback that can keep them off the field altogether?
We’ll see how the Bengals manage things once they start playing preseason games, because even a rusty Whitworth is preferable to putting someone else at left tackle when the games start counting.