With their revamped offense under new age head coach Zac Taylor coping with injures up front, the Bengals went retro in their first attempt to find a back-up tackle.
Ten years after they took him in the first round, Andre Smith re-joined the Bengals for a fourth time Thursday following a workout that found him looking about a svelte 330 pounds. One club insider thought Smith looked to be in as good shape as he's ever been after turning 32 in January.
There aren't many of those around that remember since he'll be playing for a new head coach in a new system with a new line coach. He loves the idea of getting a shot to play an 11th season for a team in a town where he's played his best ball.
"Hallelujah. I'm blessed," said Smith as he got acclimated to what amounts to the new player space created by head coach Zac Taylor in Paul Brown Stadium. "A lot of changes around here, huh? It seems like everyone is energized by all the changes. They're enthusiastic. I think it's great. I'm excited."
It's the second time in seven months the Bengals have called on Smith to supply depth for a line coping with injuries. After a tough game for the Cardinals in late November (he allowed two sacks, two hurries and four pressures, according to profootballfocus.com), Smith was cut and the Bengals promptly signed him to replace the injured Jake Fisher.
But now that he's back for the start of training camp, Smith can get in sync with offensive line coach Jim Turner right from the jump and offer some seasoning in a spot they have virtually nothing behind starting tackles Cordy Glenn on the left and Bobby Hart on the right. They'll be looking for Smith to add to his versatility. Only one of his 93 NFL starts has been at left tackle, although he did have a solid college career on that side. The Bengals tried to put him inside at guard when he returned on a one-year deal in 2017, but he didn't take to it in training camp. It's a move that takes away some of the angst at tackle, but still has to play out.
In the what-goes-around-comes department, one of the kids to whom Turner introduced Smith Thursday was Jonah Williams. Williams suffered a season-ending torn labrum last month after coming out of Alabama in the first round to play left tackle like Smith came out of Alabama in the first round 10 years ago to play the right side. Both got hurt in practices before the regular-season started and now Williams' injury is the driving force behind Smith's return.
View some of the the top images from the 2019 offseason practices.
Also Thursday, the Bengals signed undrafted long snapper Dan Godsil out of Indiana and cut wide receiver Kermit Whitfield after two years on the practice squad.
Williams is among a group of five players on Thursday that were designated not ready to start training camp because of injury and that included cornerbacks Darqueze Dennard (knee) and Darius Phillips (knee), guard Alex Redmond (shoulder) and running back Rodney Anderson (knee).
Any of them can practice in training camp once they're cleared medically. Dennard is expected to need a couple of more weeks and Phillips, his fellow slot corner, probably comes back sooner. Anderson has been placed on the active/non-football injury list because he tore his ACL last season playing for Oklahoma. He could also return by the end of camp, but he may be a candidate for the physically unable to perform (PUP) list. A player that goes on PUP when the teams cut to 53 players the week before the opener can't practice for the first six weeks of the regular season.
It's the first official sign that franchise player A.J. Green (toe) can hit the field running Saturday at Dayton's Welcome Stadium for the first practice. Same with pass rusher Carl Lawson and defensive tackle Ryan Glasgow (ACLs) and tight end Tyler Eifert (ankle).