CINCINNATI — The Bengals' offensive line depth is being tested early in training camp.
Starting right tackle Riley Reiff hasn't practiced since rolling his ankle at the end of Monday's session. Fred Johnson (quad) is out for at least a few more days and Hakeem Adeniji (pectoral) is expected to miss a significant amount of time.
The injuries have exposed a weakness in the trenches that has to get fixed if Joe Burrow and the offense is going to fulfill their potential this season.
While the team is open to adding another piece, it doesn't sound like they're worried about their lack of depth at offensive tackle.
"I think we're always evaluating what's out there on both sides of the line. But, hopefully Fred (Johnson) can come back sooner than later, Riley (Reiff) could be back as soon as today," Bengals head coach Zac Taylor said. "I think Isaiah Prince has done a nice job. It's good for D'Ante Smith to get a lot of reps. It's not a bad thing when a guy misses a practice or two because you get a chance to see those young guys step up and what they are capable of and the pressure is on them a little bit."
This coaching staff likes Smith's potential, but adding a proven veteran tackle seems necessary. Sam Hubbard had his way with the rookie on Tuesday. Smith may end up being a good player, but banking on offensive line coach Frank Pollack to have him ready to play this season might be a stretch.
"D'Ante first day in pads gets to block Sam Hubbard for 50 plays or whatever it was, so that's a good 'Welcome to the NFL' moment. This guy just made $10 million and trying to make sure everyone knows he earned every penny of it," Taylor said. "D'Ante is the one that gets to see that up close and in person so that was a fun battle to see, but you didn't see any panic from him. He didn't win every battle certainly, but you saw he might lose a rep and reset and have a great next rep, and that's what we're asking these young players in particular to do. It's a long game, you're going to make a mistake. Reset, focus on your technique and Frank has done a great job with those guys."
We wrote about three offensive tackles that could make sense for the Bengals to sign, but it doesn't sound like they're nearly as concerned about the lack of depth behind Jonah Williams and Reiff.
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