Last year, the Super Bowl champion New England Patriots overcame the loss of their first-round tackle to an injury that wiped out his rookie season. It looks like the Bengals have to do something similar.
The club confirmed that rookie left tackle Jonah Williams underwent left shoulder surgery Tuesday to repair a torn labrum that is likely to sideline him for the entire season, but he is expected to make a full recovery. He sat out the June 11-13 mandatory minicamp after getting injured the week before in practice.
“We look forward to Jonah being a major contributor in the future, and know that he won’t let this injury deter him from still being an important part of this team,” said head coach Zac Taylor in a news release. “We’re confident in our offensive line personnel as we head into training camp, and we believe they can do their part in helping this team achieve its goals.”
Williams, widely viewed as the best offensive lineman available back in April’s draft, was immediately made the left tackle when team drills started last month and incumbent Cordy Glenn moved over one spot to left guard. Presumably the injury puts Glenn and his 90 NFL starts at left tackle back there with the big question now revolving around left guard.
Christian Westerman, who has two NFL starts in his three seasons with the Bengals, took a bulk of the starter’s reps at left guard during the minicamp while Glenn moved back to left tackle. But the newly-signed John Jerry, a nine-year veteran, also got a look there.
Clint Boling, the incumbent left guard, didn’t practice during the spring with an unknown ailment and it’s not clear when he’ll be available at training camp, which begins July 27.
With Boling (109 starts) or Jerry (101), the Bengals have potentially more experience on the left side than the Patriots did when they began their run to last year’s championship run. The Pats went with a seventh-round pick in his fourth season at left tackle in Trent Brown and third-year man Joe Thuney at left guard.
When first-round pick Isaiah Wynn suffered a season-ending torn Achilles on his ninth pre-season snap, they were trying him at right tackle. But they’ve got enough confidence in Wynn, the 23rd selection back in 2018, that they let Brown go in free agency and put Wynn in his place.
After Williams works through his rehab and learning of the scheme, he figures to get the same vote of confidence from the Bengals. An injured red-shirt year hasn’t spelled doom.
It certainly didn’t hurt cornerback William Jackson III. Jackson, the Bengals’ No. 1 pick in 2016, has played at a high level (Pro Football Focus.com put him in the top 16 cornerbacks in snaps per reception in 2017 and 2018) despite suffering a season-ending shoulder injury in his first training camp. The club opted to exercise their fifth-year option on him in 2020.
Center Billy Price, last year’s first-round pick, not only missed the spring rehabbing his shoulder, but 19 snaps into his second regular-season game he suffered a foot injury that took him out of the next six games. Yet he rebounded this spring to solidify himself as the center of the future while not missing a snap.