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A Sign New Bengals Left Tackle Orlando Brown Jr. Adding To Zac Taylor's Chemistry: "Every Day I'm Hustling'    

OT Orlando Brown Jr. does mobility work during conditioning at the IEL Practice Facility in Cincinnati, Ohio on Monday, April 17, 2023.
OT Orlando Brown Jr. does mobility work during conditioning at the IEL Practice Facility in Cincinnati, Ohio on Monday, April 17, 2023.

Orlando Brown Jr., all 6-8 and 363 pounds of him poured into a charismatic vat of energy and earnestness, spent his first day in the Bengals locker room Monday finding out all he could about his new team.

How could he reach out to the two greatest tackles in Bengals' history? Pro Football Hall of Famer Anthony Munoz and Canton finalist Willie Anderson?

Where would his seat be in head coach Zac Taylor's first team meeting of the season?

Asked about first impressions playing with new tag-team partner Cordell Volson at left guard, he volunteered, "Honestly, he might be the biggest guard I've ever played with," Brown said. "I'll let you know at the end of training camp. I'll have an answer for you."

After his first day of the Bengals' offseason voluntary workouts, Brown had made good on the sign he placed in his locker.

"Every day I'm hustling."

The man expected to return the Bengals' left tackle spot to the elite days last seen with Andrew Whitworth knows the expectations.

"Big man. High energy. Very excited to have him. Going to be a fun year," said center Ted Karras, the leader of the offensive line and last year's captain "He adds a dynamic talent. A proven championship-level left tackle. I'm excited to get to know him as a person and form those bonds on and off the field."

That's why the next month is Karras' favorite time of the year. As Taylor underlined to the media Monday, it's as much about crafting chemistry as it is making the GPS devices of head strength and conditioning coach Joey Boese sing. Along with quarterback Joe Burrow's deadly all-time leading NFL completion percentage and defensive coordinator Lou Anarumo's chameleon schemes, Taylor's They Have To Play Us chemistry have been the labels of the Bengals' renaissance in the early 2020s.

The nameplates above the lockers change. But the idea is the signs stay the same in the NFL's cauldron of change.

"From afar you can tell how special it is," said Brown, fresh off protecting Patrick Mahomes' blindside in the Chiefs' titanic matchups against Burrow in the last two AFC title games. "I think it shows up on Sundays the way they compete, the way they play. I'm blessed and happy to be a part of it."

Brown, who has made the postseason in all five NFL seasons with Baltimore and then Kansas City, is anxious about the stability of his four-year contract.

"The longevity with the system. The players in the locker room. The coaches," Brown said, "to be able to deal with that type of chemistry, it will definitely give me a lot more confidence to go there and play."

Brown says he's been watching Volson's tape ("He moves so well for being so tall," and "You can tell he studies" as well as "He's got a great future") and while he hasn't watched Brown yet, the massive 6-7, 313-pound Volson knows the rep.

"Great dude. We've texted a little prior to meeting," Volson said. "Ton of energy. Really good player. Just knowing the caliber of player he is, I'm really excited to play next to him."

Thanks to last year's arrival of Karras, right tackle La'el Collins and right guard Alex Cappa via free agency and Volson via the fourth round of the draft, chemistry on this offensive line has become a given. Cappa, who lockers next to Karras, was already getting on him to be on time for the meeting. Volson, who lockers on the other side of Karras, talked about how those guys taught him to develop the routine of a pro. Told Cappa looked ready after missing the last three games of the season with an ankle injury, Karras exclaimed, "Look at him."

Cappa, who could have played in the Super Bowl, sounds like he's going to be bouncing around this spring.

"It's as healthy as I've ever been," Cappa said. "Say that."

Brown says good things about this offensive line's tape.

"They play with a lot of fire to be honest. A lot of finish," Brown said. "A lot of guys doing the little things right. Jogging to help up receivers or quarterbacks or whoever down field. Getting involved. Being around the ball. Showing up on the screen. I feel like they do the little things right."

New tight end Irv Smith Jr., has already been adopted by the offensive line. Monday was the first time he had met Brown. Their fathers played on the 1999 expansion Cleveland team that got beat by the Bengals in the last NFL game at Riverfront Stadium.

"That's just God at the end of the day," Smith said. "It feels like I'm gaining a brother."

Step into the IEL Practice Facility as the Bengals work during day 1 of offseason training, presented by Kettering Health.

Smith, assigned former tight end Hayden Hurst's locker, crossed the locker room to meet Brown and the offensive line. He met a lot of other guys in between.

"Great vibes on a team that's had a lot of success. I'm just trying to be a part of it. Great energy. Everybody is in here playing ping-pong," Smith said. "It takes all 11 guys on each side of the ball. It starts from the top down with Coach Taylor."

All signs seem to be pointing to the new-found brothers fitting into a new home.