It appears the era of Cedric Ogbuehi as a right tackle is over and the new one as a left tackle has begun. So don't look for him on the right side in any role starting Sunday (1 p.m.-Cincinnati's Channel 12) in Cleveland.
"I'm purely mentally everything left," Ogbuehi said after Thursday's practice.
He's finishing up his second week of practice back at his home of left tackle after starting the first ten games of his NFL career at right and is upbeat as a guy who just lost his job can be. After getting benched before last Sunday's win over Philadelphia, offensive line coach Paul Alexander told him they'd put him in at left if needed.
That's highly doubtful, of course, because that's the undisputed spot of two-time Pro Bowler Andrew Whitworth, currently rated the fourth best tackle in the NFL by profootballfocus.com. The same site that put Ogbuehi in the bottom ten.
"It's his spot until he's ready to give it up," Ogbuehi said and no one knows when that could be since Whitworth is a free agent on a roster in which he's the only left tackle to play for the Bengals.
Ogbuehi's comments just sparked an offseason of speculation. Leading the list for next year is would the Bengals consider moving Whitworth to left guard while helping Ogbuehi settle in at left tackle? And if Ogbuehi can't do it, then they're covered with a Pro Bowler. He turns 35 in four days, but he's also an incumbent Pro Bowler.
Ogbuehi isn't worried about such details. He's just glad he's back home, admitting it's a load off his mind. It will be recalled that when the Bengals drafted Ogbuehi in the first round and Jake Fisher in the second round in 2015, the idea was to put him at left and Fisher at right.
"It's my natural position and I can just concentrate on left tackle knowing that's my future position," Ogbuehi said. "It was one of those things I really thought that I'd be left tackle and he'd be right tackle. Might as well start now."
The Bengals apparently wanted to get Ogbuehi's ample talent on the field as soon as he had recovered from the torn ACL he suffered his senior year at Texas A&M. With Whitworth signed up for another year, the Bengals let right tackle Andre Smith leave in free agency believing Ogbuehi could play the right side. He played some of it at A&M, but mainly it was left tackle and like he said Thursday, that's where has always felt the most comfortable.
"Especially if you're really dominant right hand which I am," he said. "(The right side) you have to be dominant left hand, which I'm not. I think I'll be more comfortable on the left side … I'm a righty. My left hand is not very good at anything."
Ogbuehi, whose athleticism has been praised as the perfect specs for the left, is far from devastated by the benching. He's got confidence.
"It's good. I think it's high. If they put me in I think I would do very well at left," Ogbuehi said. "I do think I was getting better, but where we're at in the season I think they made what they thought was the right move and I just have to get better at left."
Andy Dalton 2016 Man of the Year Nominee.