Just a few months ago, greater Bengaldom found itself relapsing into some of its old, chronic behavior, bemoaning a cheap and shortsighted front office and declaring an offensive tackle an immediate draft need as the emergent Anthony Collins left for Tampa Bay in free agency. With training camp just a month away, the silence of these critics is excusable; after all, it is a gut reaction for fans of the Cardiac Cats to expect the worst. But with four playoff appearances in the past five years, it might be time for even the most dubious of us to check our negativity and consider, if just for a moment, that there is a method to the madness being issued from the bowels of Paul Brown Stadium… it just might not be apparent to us at the moment.
But it should have been. Even though he moved into guard late in the season last year, Pro Bowl left tackle Andrew Whitworth is still one of the top players at his natural position and is expected to return in 2014. Andre Smith also graded out strong last season across from him at right tackle. Kevin Zeitler has done nothing but impress since being drafted 27th overall in 2012. Journeyman guard Clint Boling looked very savvy last season until a torn ACL during Week 12. While he is expected to miss OTAs and mini-camp, he should be ready for the regular season. Finally, the departure of incumbent center Kyle Cook seemingly heralded the advent of Kevin Pollack, a seven-year veteran of the League. In short, the Bengals were already lining up one of the best starting five in the NFL without Collins.