CINCINNATI — The Bengals' offense has struggled for most of training camp.
Joe Burrow doesn't look comfortable. The offensive line lost much more than than they won on Tuesday in their first practice in full pads.
Can you hear that? It's the growing sound of analysts, fans, podcasters across the country saying Burrow needs more protection.
Those people are right, but Tuesday's struggles had more to do with injuries and the failure to add proven pieces in free agency.
Jonah Williams lined up at left tackle. Outside of that, Burrow was playing behind four potential backups. Starting right tackle Riley Reiff didn't practice after getting dinged up at the end of Monday's practice.
Trey Hopkins isn't lining up at center during team drills as he continues to recover from a torn ACL. The Bengals did get second-round pick Jackson Carman some reps at right guard, but he could ultimately start the season on the bench behind Xavier Su'a-Filo and Quinton Spain.
Is it really shocking that Burrow struggled behind a line that consisted of (from left to right) Williams, Michael Jordan, Billy Price, Carman and D'Ante Smith? That would be a challenge, even if he wasn't coming back from a devastating knee injury.
The Bengals should go out and sign a veteran offensive lineman. Maybe it's Rick Wagner or Russell Okung. They could go after Austin Reiter, who worked out for them last week.
The Penei Sewell versus Ja'Marr Chase debate is never going to end unless they add another competent lineman in free agency that can adequately protect Burrow.
The memes are already being shared on social media.
The Bengals picked Chase because they believe he can be a game-changing player on offense.
Their early struggles have nothing to do with taking Chase over Sewell. This organization had their sights set on the 21-year-old playmaker for months. The problem is they didn't add enough depth in the trenches in free agency.
Hakeem Adeniji (torn pectoral) got injured while training, Reiff was out and suddenly a fourth-round rookie was lining up at right tackle.
The Bengals should've signed another tackle the moment they found out Adeniji was expected to miss significant time. Couple his injury with Reiff being sidelined and Fred Johnson (quad) getting dinged up and the same issues that have plagued this team for years are popping up again.
Injuries happen. They can't hope Reiff plays all 17 games. They can't bank on Adeniji's return. They need another piece.
The Bengals should address their offensive line now with a veteran that can play at a competent level. They have the cap space to do it. There's no reason why they shouldn't make a run at a proven commodity after multiple injuries have begun to torpedo their plan in the trenches.
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