Tony Agnone, the agent for right guard Bobbie Williams, vehemently defended his client Saturday when he learned the NFL had suspended Williams for the first four games of the season for violating the league's policy on performance enhancing substances.
"The program has run amuck," Agnone said. "It was designed to keep guys from having a competitive edge. It was about taking steroids and now it has gotten far away from it."
Agnone said Williams hasn't taken steroids "or recreational drugs," and is also upset the way the league handled it.
"First of all, Bobbie and I found out from you and not the league," Agnone said. "Look at Bobbie. He has not changed one iota since he's been in the league."
Williams, extremely popular among his teammates, preferred to leave Agnone's statements stand on their own, but he was clearly shaken as he took calls from his mates.
"All I can say is I'm going to miss everybody," he said.
Williams can't report to the facility until Oct. 3, the day after the Bengals play the Bills and six days before they play in Jacksonville. Head coach Marvin Lewis said the team wasn't caught off guard with the announcement, but he wouldn't say who the Opening Day right guard is going to be.
The Bengals are suddenly without one of their anchors and leaders, not to mention a guy who has started the last 68 games at right guard and 109 of the last 112 since he arrived in Cincinnati in 2004.
With veteran guard Max Jean-Gilles waived, a leading candidate to replace Williams on Opening Day in Cleveland Sept. 11 is fourth-rounder Clint Boling. Boling is the backup guard that played the most with the first group and he played both guards. No doubt the Bengals are also scouring the waiver wire. Also, the Bengals gave no indication during camp that they would move one of their four tackles inside for any length of time. The other backup guard, Otis Hudson, is out for the first few weeks with a knee injury, so they at least need some depth.