Clint Boling is helping point Andre Smith the right way.
With the Bengals breaking out the shoulder pads for the first time Sunday in training camp, all eyes turn to the young tackles on the offensive line and the biggest question marks of the offseason.
But Saturday's workout reminded us that besides Cedric Ogbuehi and Jake Fisher, right guard is also going to be manned by a new face. After 82 NFL games at right tackle and 38 games left tackle for Alabama, Andre Smith got the nod and the reps in the spring. On Saturday they surprisingly switched it up and put Smith at second-team right tackle and Trey Hopkins at first-team right guard.
Offensive line coach Paul Alexander wouldn't say that was a commentary on Smith's transition and wrote it off to typical first week camp stuff in the effort to get a look at everybody. And before Sunday's practice Smith said he looked forward to going back to guard for the day's work and says he has no plans to be a backup.
"Trying to see where guys fit in. I'm just taking this opportunity to work on the tackle position," Smith said. "I think I did some really good stuff yesterday at tackle. I'm looking forward to playing guard today and get better at guard.
"I only had six weeks to work at it. I'm just trying to get better. I just want to be where I can help the team."
It sounds like Smith is going to get those right guard reps, at least today.
"I'm not going to come off the bench," Smith said. "It is what it is. Just do my job. Go out and compete and leave it at that."
Smith and left guard Clint Boling are the vets of that first line, and if you look at the close proximity of their lockers you can see that Smith hasn't had to go far to talk to someone about the switch. Boling did it the other way, starting 19 games at left tackle and 11 at right tackle at Georgia. But he also had the luxury of 19 starts at right guard.
While getting ready for a practice this week, they chatted about the move. Smith says he's been watching Boling with his 79 NFL games at left guard and pretty much a starter since he came out of the fourth round in the Green-Dalton Draft of 2011:
SMITH: All the time. All the time I'm talking to Clint trying to figure it out. He does everything well.
BOLING: He's a talented guy. High draft pick. A lot of ability. Once you move from tackle to guard, it's a very different world. There are different things. Run and pass blocks. Screens. It's just something where you need a lot of reps.
SMITH: Mainly (I watch his) hand placement and the way he sets. At tackle you're more explosive. At guard you have to be more under control. You just have to be more patient. You can't just fly out of there like you can when you're playing tackle.
BOLING: The pass sets are different. At tackle you're more in space, running guys past the quarterback, that kind of stuff. At guard you're taking guys on. You don't have very much ground with which to give.
SLANTS AND SCREENS: It's early, but after two days it's clear the secondary is in a much better place than last year at this time. Just look at cornerback William Jackson's two pick-sixes in as many days. Seven-year safety George Iloka, his second year running things on the field for secondary coach Kevin Coyle, has noticed.
"I think he came in and set expectations and if you didn't know them now you do after a year," Iloka said. "Another thing is we've got everybody back. We've started out faster than last year and that's good because in this league you don't get snaps or games back."
Cincinnati Bengals host Training Camp at Paul Brown stadium Practice Fields 7/30/2017