Dontay Moch re-surfaced in Bengaldom Friday and this time as that defensive end that flashed so regularly in the last two preseasons.
Moch, the club's 2011 third-round pick as a converted SAM backer, was claimed on waivers from the Cardinals and figures to get plenty of action at end in spring ball and in training camp. With the departure of Michael Johnson earlier in the week to Tampa Bay, they are lining up four veterans of their rotation to take his place in various forms.
But the indications have been they'll keep looking for pass rushers in free agency and the draft. In the 6-2, 255-pound Moch, they have a homegrown guy that had trouble getting on the field for a variety of reasons in Cincinnati but who racked up 6.5 sacks in the last two preseasons and most came when they put him back at end.
For his first two seasons Moch battled a mysterious bout of migraine headaches, an injured foot in his first preseason game, and a four-game suspension for performance-enhancing substances that delayed his second season while trying to make the age-old conversion from college pass-rushing end to NFL linebacker. At Nevada he ran wild with 30 sacks and 63 tackles for loss before going to the NFL scouting combine at 241 pounds and crushing a 4.40 40-yard dash.
He then became the answer to the trivia question, "Who did the Bengals draft after A.J. Green and Andy Dalton in 2011?" He played just one regular-season game before he got released on cut down day last year, when he was noticed by hometown Arizona and put on the Cards' practice squad. He was activated for the last 13 games of 2013, seeing action in four with two tackles and a sack.
But he was playing at the SAM and only rushing occasionally. The Bengals seem set at putting him at end.
O-LINE SEEKS DEPTH: The Bengals have a starting offensive line on paper and on Friday head coach Marvin Lewis confirmed you can write in Pro Bowler Andrew Whitworth at his old left tackle position.
"I think he was our starting left tackle, yes sir. I would assume he would continue to be our starting left tackle, wouldn't you?" Lewis asked in his Friday conference call.
But they're also looking for line depth from the field of released players that has piled up this week in conjunction with the start of Tuesday's free agency.
On Friday the club confirmed the visits of two veteran guards, Uche Nwaneri, just cut by the Jaguars, and Vladimir Ducasse, whacked by the Jets. Ducasse has started just five games since he was taken out of Massachusetts in the second round of 2010 and Nwaneri has started all but one game since 2010 and 92 since he came into the league in 2007 as a fifth-rounder out of Purdue.
With left tackle Anthony Collins now a Buc and the club under the impression left guard Clint Boling won't be available from his ACL rehab until after training camp starts, the Bengals figure to be active finding linemen in the weeks leading up to the May 8-10 draft, where they are also expected to get some more.
The Bengals would probably lean to the younger Ducasse, a guy that got benched last season for a rookie early in the season. ProFootballFocus.com rated him the 56th out of 81 guards, but his grades were much better on the run (27th) than the pass (62).
There are no indications of imminent signings. This is a stage of free agency the Bengals traditionally call "kicking the tires," and they may not make a decision on somebody for days and weeks and maybe not at all pending physicals and financial considerations.
Right guard Kevin Zeitler and center Mike Pollak look to be starters when the spring camps open and fifth-round pick Tanner Hawkinson figures to go at left guard as Boling rehabs. With Whitworth now at tackle, those are the only guards listed on the roster. Whitworth and starting right tackle Andre Smith are the only tackles that are signed.
Centers Trevor Robinson and T.J. Johnson have also worked at guard and they also have first-year center Scott Wedige, a guy with two stints on the Bengals roster that played two games at center for Arizona in 2012. So they could use some veterans to mix with their rookies once spring ball commences after the draft.