Cedric Ogbuehi is convinced that the month he spent doing Mixed Martial Arts at Jay Glazer's Unbreakable Performance Center in Los Angeles is going to pay big dividends on the football field.
"I think it's helped with leverage, sinking my hips, and my overall strength," Ogbuehi told me. "MMA is all about leverage and I think that helps a ton with my position.
"We did a little boxing for stamina and shoulders and wrestling-type movements. It was good work."
Does Bengals offensive line coach Paul Alexander agree that MMA-style training will help his young left tackle?
"I have no idea," said Alexander. "I haven't really followed it to tell you the truth."
But don't mistake Alexander's disinterest in MMA for doubt about Ogbuehi's improvement.
For the first time in his three NFL seasons, Cedric has been healthy this offseason allowing him to take part in the Bengals OTAs and minicamps.
"OTAs are the time where you really start from the beginning and break down the core fundamentals of blocking," said Alexander. "He hasn't been able to do that. He's been hurt and was just kind of thrown in there to run plays. He's been playing from behind a little bit. Now he's playing from ahead."
"It's the first time that I got to slow it down and learn my techniques," said Ogbuehi. "I've noticed the difference. I'm a different player, and I'm a more confident player."
Alexander is in his 23rd season as the Bengals offensive line coach and helped develop Pro Bowl tackles Willie Anderson and Andrew Whitworth. He says that an offensive lineman's confidence is built on the practice field.
"The best way to get confident is blocking your guy over and over again," said Alexander. "You only get that through competitive execution of consistent fundamentals.
"(Cedric's) never really been comfortable enough where he could execute the techniques the same way twice. That's what he's doing now. You're building habits, you're getting lots of repetitions going at slower speeds and then faster speeds and you're developing those habits of good fundamentals."
"Every day I'm getting better," said Ogbuehi. "I'm learning something every day and the game is slowing down."
When the Bengals concluded their final minicamp on June 15th, Ogbuehi said his plan was to go home to Dallas and continue training. When training camp opens at Paul Brown Stadium on July 28th, the 25-year-old will look to pick up where he left off on the practice field.
"I have to do what I did in OTAs and do it in camp," he said. "Stack the practices, keep getting better, and be the same guy in camp that I was during OTAs.
"It's exciting and going to be fun. Playing left tackle is the place I love to be and I'm excited to go out there and play."
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