While La'el Collins rehabs a torn ACL, the Bengals face the possibility of having a different Opening Day right tackle again for quarterback Joe Burrow, but there is no shortage of options and an intriguing one is new veteran Cody Ford.
His name barely gets mentioned in the derby, but keep an eye on new left tackle Orlando Brown, Jr.'s old college teammate. The Bengals thought highly enough of Ford to try and trade up and get him in the second round of the 2019 draft and again this offseason when they gave him a one-year deal with the shot of playing his preferred position of right tackle.
Brown and Ford agreed to terms on consecutive days in March independently of each other and Brown thinks a new place is best for an old friend.
"That's the benefit of coming somewhere like the Bengals. It gives you the opportunity to be a great pro while also being yourself," Brown says. "That's why so often you see men come in here that may not have had necessarily the best-known reputations, but they've been great football players and respected by their peers.
"Ted Karras is an example of that," Brown says of the Bengals center heading into his second season as a mainstay leader. "Someone who was given one-year opportunities and they gave him (a multiple-year deal) here and he's been able to flourish and be the best player he can be. Not that he hasn't always been that guy. He just necessarily hasn't always gotten that opportunity to truly be himself and be himself on the football field and this is the place to do that."
The 6-3, 330-pound Ford started 15 games at right tackle as a rookie on the Bills' 2019 Wild Card playoff team. He's started 17 games during the last three years for Buffalo and Arizona, but primarily as a guard. And, yes, he might agree, big guys can get stereotyped as strictly inside guys who don't move well enough to play tackle.
"That's probably what happened, I'm also not complaining about it or mad about it. It's just what happens,' says the very upbeat Ford. "There's an opportunity here and it's my job to take advantage of it."
Head coach Zac Taylor has indicated Jackson Carman is going to get the first shot over there while Collins rehabs. Transplanted left tackle Jonah Williams is also expected in the mix at right tackle, but he's also rehabbing a knee injury. Hakeem Adeniji, who replaced Collins in the playoffs, is back for a fourth season.
"We're going to need everybody. Unfortunately, we experienced that late last season,' says offensive line coach Frank Pollack, who lost a starter to injury in three straight games before his rebuilt line allowed quarterback Joe Burrow to rule the AFC Divisional in Buffalo.
The injury bug has even hit Pollack, who needed offseason surgery and surveyed Monday's practice while on a crutch.
"It's a good problem to have," Pollack says of the options. "(Cody) gives us good position flex. He's played both. He's played a lot of football and he's got a lot of tools worthy of a second-round pick."
Here is Brown's scouting report on Ford:
"A rough, tough player. He's battled tested. He's very hungry. He's got a really big chip on his shoulder right now."
For Ford, he's narrowed it down to the basics and he says the early returns are just fine.
"For me, it all starts with my footwork. It comes down to my ability to stay low and keep my hips squared to the line of scrimmage. That's what I'm working on," Ford says. "I'm here because I'm getting a shot at right tackle and I'm loving it so far. Beautiful town. Beautiful team."
Pollack says he has no doubt Williams, the Bengals' first-round pick in that 2019 draft, can make the move from left to right. They've talked over the phone, but mainly about Williams' rehab from a dislocated kneecap.
"He's a very good athlete and he's smart. He's already been working on stuff where he is now in California," Pollack says. He's kind of been focusing on his rehab and getting strong all the way back from an explosive standpoint. From what I've been hearing it's coming along great."
Step into the IEL Practice Facility as the Bengals work during day 1 of offseason training, presented by Kettering Health.
BIG WILL RETURNS: Speaking of right tackles, Bengals Ring of Honor member Willie Anderson comes to Cincinnati to reunite with one of his old Bengals quarterbacks to stage the two-day Willie Anderson Lineman Academy "OLine Summit," for youth at Lakota East High School from 5-8 p.m. May 30-31.
Former Bengals quarterback Jon Kitna, the new head coach at Lakota East, hosts the event with his old Pro Bowl right tackle. When Anderson was voted to his first Pro Bowl in 2003, Kitna was voted the NFL Comeback Player of the Year.
"He's probably everyone's top five teammate," says Anderson of a reunion that won't exactly be a picnic.
"It's going to be a lot of work three hours each day. It's basically everything I think a lineman should be about," Anderson says. "Break down film review. Speak about the weight room and showing lifts. A whole day of run blocking and a whole day of pass blocking."
Signups are available at Eventbrite.com.
Kitna, who calls Anderson "one of the best," says it's a big chance for not only area linemen but also coaches to hear a guy who has schooled countless big men since he retired.
"I tried to tell as many coaches as I could about it," Kitna said. "I can't wait to get him out there and bless the big guys. During my first year here I remember saying, I never feel pressure from my right. He played the position with so much patience and athleticism and he did a great job studying his opponents."