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Pre-practice stretch: Whit playing beat the clock


Andrew Whitworth probably isn't going to practice Tuesday when the Bengals wear pads for the third straight day at training camp.

But after going back-to-back days padded down Monday for the first time since training camp last season, the Bengals de facto offensive captain is a man in motion as he enters his 10th season at age 33.

There are a lot of dynamics in this one, so hold on. Whitworth, who has gone to a Pro Bowl, established himself as one of the NFL's top left tackles, and been the anchor of playoff offensive lines for five of the last six years at between 330-340 pounds, has people raving  about how slimmed down he is. He has no problem telling the media he is at about 307 pounds, figures he'll play at anywhere between 310 and 315, and feels the best he's ever felt.

He made the decision after researching the top left tackles of his era and some just before he came into the league in 2006. Guys like Jonathan Ogden and Orlando Pace.  

"The number that kept coming up is 12 years. Some might have squeezed to 13, but most of them were 12," Whitworth said before Tuesday's practice. "I still have three to four years left. NFL football is just different now.  The way we practice, our schedule, I can go longer. The one denominator I found is that they were probably a little heavy late in their careers and I don't think that helped them play longer….Carrying that much weight, at some point you're going to break down."

He did everything the past three months from going on a no-carbs diet to walking the hills of his native Louisiana two hours at a time with 75 pounds strapped to him. After meetings Monday night, he ran a little on the treadmill, which must have had the 22-year-olds wondering what the heck is going on.

He has been "Big Whit," since he can remember, so he wondered in the back of his mind if being "Not So Big Whit,' would impact his game at all. After firing off the ball the last two days, he knows he made the right decision.

"I'm still doing the same stuff strength-wise," Whitworth said. "There are going to be some technical things I'm going to have to do better because I'm lighter. Not getting my chest up as much as I was when I was heavier, it's just a matter of adjusting to some technique things."

Even though he turns 34 in December, Whitworth thinks he can defy time and play four more seasons after this one. He also dearly hopes he ends his career in Cincinnati. But with his deal ending at the end of this season like half of his fellow starters and regulars, his advice to them is the same for himself.

"Have the best year of my career and see where the chips fall,' Whitworth said. "That can only benefit you (as a potential free agent)."

After he expressed frustration with his contract status back in the spring, he later said he wouldn't wear another uniform. But on Tuesday, he said he realizes things can change in the wake of drafting left tackles Cedric Ogbuehi and Jake Fisher in the first two rounds.

 "That is my intention and my hope,' said Whitworth of remaining a Bengal. "When you get married you tell your wife she's the only one you want to marry. But if she doesn't want to marry you, there's nothing you can do about it.  They've been awesome to me. I've been great to them. I would love to stay here, but no one knows what the future holds."

Right now, he believes there is a future.

 "I feel great,' said Whitworth, who'll still be moving Tuesday even if he isn't practicing.

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