Cedric Ogbuehi (left) as he appeared last month at his first Bengals news conference with Marvin Lewis.
When the Bengals finish off their spring session in next week's June 16-18 mandatory minicamp, they'll have all nine draft picks in the fold.
Left tackle Cedric Ogbuehi finished off the class Thursday when he signed his four-year deal and since he's a first-rounder the club has the option to give him a fifth year. Now all that's left for head coach Marvin Lewis is to decide if he'll bring in the rookies a few days before the veterans or if he'll have everybody report to training camp July 30 and start practice July 31.
No matter what, Ogbuehi doesn't figure to be working in training camp as he continues to rehab the ACL he tore in his last game for Texas A&M in late December's Liberty Bowl. The thinking has been he'll start the year on the physically unable to perform list (PUP) and not practice for the first six weeks of the regular season.
The rehab remains the center of the 6-5, 306-pound Ogbuehi's being, even after signing his life-changing deal.
"It's a blessing. I'm glad I'm able to help out my family,' he said. "But right now I'm focused on the knee. Plan A is get the knee ready. That's all I'm focused on."
All signs are pointing to him able to play midway through the season. He's ramped up his rehab in the past few weeks to encompass running (not full speed yet) and cutting, as well as exercises strengthening the knee. He says he's doing some work in a stance, but nothing with the offensive line as he continues to work under director of rehab Nick Cosgray.
"I'm just trying to earn that money," Ogbuehi said. "I just want to do what they drafted me to do and that's help this team win. I'm excited for the challenge. All I can do is learn the offense and learn from the vets."
The Bengals had the luxury of taking Ogbuehi with the 21st pick because they've already got 10-year veteran Andrew Whitworth lined up to start his seventh straight season as the starting left tackle.
"It's great to have all these guys in the fold well before we open training camp," said Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis in the news release announcing the signing. "We are looking to get a lot of help from this group to extend our string of playoff appearances and then go farther. With Cedric, that help will come a little farther down the road, but this is a guy who's worth a little wait.
"Ced has tremendous potential and a tremendous future," Lewis said. "He's just a huge man with great athleticism, big, long length and a huge wingspan. He protects the passer and he's punishing as a run blocker. We were very, very pleased that he was there when we picked."
Ogbuehi's deal still isn't the quickest reached between a Bengals' first-rounder and agent David Dunn. The two sides negotiated a contract for USC quarterback Carson Palmer a few days before the 2003 draft.
Ogbuehi is a far enough along in his rehab that he was able to join his teammates at Thursday's team-building exercise that Lewis traditionally uses in the slot reserved for the 10th and last voluntary practice of the spring. Instead of Paul Brown Stadium the scene was the sand volleyball court at Hahana Beach in Newtown, where Ogbuehi continued his rehab while his mates took part in an eight-team tournament.
Lewis chose for his captains the eight guys that have been in the NFL the longest: Whitworth, kicker Mike Nugent, defensive tackle Domata Peko, linebacker A.J. Hawk, tackle Eric Winston, cornerbacks Adam Jones and Leon Hall and safety Reggie Nelson. Hawk, the newest Bengal, saw his team win the title against Winston's team with the help of quarterback Andy Dalton and tight end Tyler Eifert.
It doesn't appear that the Bengals are interested in adding two former Patriots before next week's camp. New England recently released linebacker Brandon Spikes and tight end Tim Wright, two positions where they were thin before the draft. In addition to signing Hawk in free agency, they drafted TCU linebacker P.J. Dawson in the third round. After drafting two tight ends for the first time in 30 years, they have seven tight ends that include fullback Ryan Hewitt.