The Bengals went with their third different offensive line in as many weeks Sunday when they walked out an entirely different new right side at FedEx Field against Washington's front flush with first-round picks as rookie Hakeem Adeniji made his first start at right tackle and Quinton Spain made his first Bengals' start at right guard.
It continued Spain's remarkable Bengals career that isn't even a month old yet. It was his second straight start for them at a different position after making his first NFL start at right tackle in last week's game in Pittsburgh and three weeks after making his Bengals debut at left guard in the win over Tennessee.
Spain, 29, a six-year veteran making his 69th NFL start in Washington, arrived at Paul Brown Stadium on Oct. 30 after getting cut by Bills and undergoing nearly a week of COVID testing. Despite being handed the playbook just 48 hours before, Spain played every series but the first with 62 snaps against the Titans in a game the Bengals rushed for 118 yards and quarterback Joe Burrow didn't get hit or sacked.
Starting right guard Alex Redmond came into the game as questionable after hurting a bicep last week. Starting right tackle Bobby Hart was active after practicing full the last two days after missing the two previous games with a knee injury. But head coach Zac Taylor appeared to do in Washington what he did last week in Pittsburgh when he started Adeniji at left tackle in place of starter Jonah Williams and had Williams active in case of emergency.
Adeniji, a sixth-round pick out of Kansas, impressed with his first two NFL starts on the left side. When the dust cleared after he went against such Pro Bowl rushers as Tennessee's Jadeveon Clowney and Pittsburgh's Bud Dupree, he had allowed no sacks and just one hit of Burrow on 88 passes, according to Pro Football Focus.
Adeniji looks to be the Bengals' most versatile rookie offensive lineman since Andrew Whitworth made 10 starts at left tackle and two at left guard in 2006. Adeniji started every game at Kansas, most of them at left tackle. He did play a little right tackle early in his career in Lawrence and while he has been practicing on both sides since he arrived in Cincinnati he said this week he's still getting used to the right side.
He actually took reps to start at right tackle last week before they decided to give Williams another week to rest.
"I'm improving every day the more and more reps that I get," Adeniji said before Thursday's practice. "I definitely feel confident in my ability to step out there and perform well so that's the most important thing."
The assignments for Spain and Adeniji were formidable. Spain lined up against two first-round tackles in in Daron Payne and Jonathan Allen while Adeniji figured at some point to face a trio of first-round edge rushers in Chase Young, Montez Sweat and Ryan Kerrigan with a combined 13 sacks.
It's not the first time in recent years that the Bengals have needed the versatility they seek in Spain. Between Oct, 28-Dec. 12, 2018, center Trey Hopkins started every game he played, one at center, one at left guard and one at right guard.