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Rookies hear some Whit


By Saturday the red-hot emotion of Monday had melted into the morning's sweet sounds of the game for Bengals left tackle Andrew Whitworth.

As the rookies went through their paces at Paul Brown Stadium in sun-splashed 75 degrees, Whitworth chatted with Bengals president Mike Brown while executive vice president Katie Blackburn kept his two sons occupied, four-year-old Drew and three-year-old Michael.

"Monday was just an emotional day for me. It's a tough day. Just the process," Whitworth said of the realization he may not be back after his deal ends this season. "You're getting older and eventually teams are going to have to make moves that prepare for that. And so for me, it's just being able to swallow that. The competitor I am, it's hard.

"The bottom line is, I love this place. I won't play anywhere else. I'll never put on another uniform other than a Cincinnati Bengal uniform and that's all that's important to me. So going out and taking this place to a championship and winning football games at the end of the day is what's most important to myself, my wife and my kids and that will never change."

On Monday, in the wake of the Bengals drafting of left tackles Cedric Ogbuehi and Jake Fisher, respectively in the first two rounds, Whitworth accused the club of being "one-way," about his future  with the indication they weren't prepared to discuss an extension and if they were, well, they had these two young tackles and…

The club's silence was a blow to Whitworth and his remarks stunned those around the Bengals who have turned to him during his nine reliable seasons here as one of their invaluable players and of one their most indispensable leaders.

But on Saturday, Whitworth said he wished he had handled it a bit differently

"I probably handled it in ways I probably shouldn't have, to be honest. To me, it's about always trying to make decisions that reflect my leadership and who I am," Whitworth said. "So to me, because I hold myself to a high standard, I wish I had maybe handled it a little better. But the real truth is at the end of the day, I love it here, I love leading these guys, and our family's always been committed to that and always will be."

We apparently won't know until the end of the year if there's going to be an extension because he says there'll no disclosures of what discussions go  on between him and the club. Whitworth, 33, the man who took over the locker room in the wake of the 2011 Carson Palmer departure while insisting they could move on and win without him (which short-circuited a West Coast trip by the defense to woo Palmer back), feels like his contributions have been recognized.

"Mike and I get along fine. Everybody tries to make it a personal thing, and it's not," Whitworth said. "I love Mike, I love the family, I love the Bengals and they love me back. And that's all that matters. I love this place, the players love me and I love them, and I'm looking forward to going and winning and that's all I want to talk about is winning games and getting out here and getting a chance to see this gives you an excitement of man, I can't wait to get back and compete."

So Whitworth did what he always does and led. He hooked up with offensive line coach Paul Alexander and Alexander sent the tackles over to Whitworth. Led by Fisher, the second-round pick from Oregon, they huddled around Whitworth. As Drew and Michael scampered on the edge of the bodies and bags, Whitworth went over the placement of hand and feet.

And that is important to Fisher because he says the Bengals offensive line play is vastly different from Oregon's line play.

"He's been doing it forever. He knows what he's doing," Fisher said. "What we do here is completely different. The footwork, the whole philosophy. Just where we're placing our hands, the footwork. The hands are what offensive line play is and that's what we work on the most. Yeah, he's a good teacher. He's been here almost 10 years.

Whitworth also spent time with Ogbuehi even though he's only watching as he recovers from January ACL surgery. A second-round pick himself in '06, Whitworth likes the look of both of them.

"They're thirsty, man. I always gauge rookies by their mentality, and that is: are they coming in here defensive or are they coming in here with an attitude that they don't need to be told anything or how they need to be communicated to? And both of them are hungry, both of them are excited for the opportunity to learn something," Whitworth said.

"They're asking the right questions. They want to know the right things. To me, that's the part that lets you know -- you can tell by tape, you can tell my measurement that they're talented, but the fact that they're hungry and they want to learn and they come in with that humble attitude, that's what's going to help them be good."

Fisher, the 53rd pick, has impeccable character and skins on the wall from Oregon, one of the perennial national title contenders. Whitworth, the 55th pick in 2006 who played for an LSU national champion, wowed them with his maturity and sense of purpose.

It goes quickly.

"I can remember Justin Smith telling me that the NFL is going to go really fast. My rookie year, getting to go against him a lot because Levi (Jones) was hurt," Whitworth said.  So yeah I can remember being a rookie and going against Justin in practice and I can remember Justin telling me man, I think you're going to be a really good football player, you're good for a young tackle, and he was like I'm just going to tell you, you're going to blink your eyes and you've played six, seven years. And he was right."

On a Saturday everything looked awash, Whitworth started from scratch. The bygones, it seemed, were bygones.

"This process isn't easy," Whitworth said of what can only be called aging. "At the end of the day I love this place. I want nothing more than to spend the rest of my career here."

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