The Bengals lost two starting offensive linemen as free agents this offseason, leaving them with openings at left tackle and right guard as they built their team for the 2017 season.
They filled one of those spots by reaching out to a former member of the team, although Andre Smith’s won’t be returning as part of the plan to replace Andrew Whitworth at left tackle. Smith played right tackle in his first tour with the Bengals, but is set to take over at right guard for Kevin Zeitler.
Smith said he’s noticed things move faster at guard, something that may be exacerbated by practicing against defensive tackle Geno Atkins, but offensive line coach Paul Alexander says the transition has been a successful one thus far.
“I think Andre has a chance to be terrific at guard,” Alexander said, via the team’s website. “He’s getting to start from the beginning this year with the base techniques and then learn the offense as he goes. If we all of the sudden picked him up a week before the season and said, ‘Go play right guard,’ I don’t think he could do it. But going through this progression I think he’ll be fine.”
If all goes well, the move would benefit both the Bengals and Smith personally as the shift could prove to be a career extender as he closes in on a decade as an NFL offensive lineman.