Line ‘Em Up

3 of 3

Aug 9, 2013; Philadelphia, PA, USA; New England Patriots offensive tackle Will Svitek (74) during the second quarter against the Philadelphia Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field. The Patriots defeated the Eagles 31-22. Mandatory Credit: Howard Smith-USA TODAY Sports

Including Johnson and Robinson, four other offensive linemen look to be in competition for a final roster spot: Chandler Burden (T), Curtis Feigt (T), Trey Hopkins (G), Will Svitek (T).  While the first three are relative rookies to the League, Svitek, a nine-year veteran ‘swing-tackle’ signed just weeks ago, is a strange exception.  In 2011, Svitek was solidifying as a starter in Atlanta when a preseason arm injury derailed his 2012 season.  Falcon’s Head Coach Mike Smith called Svitek, “one of the toughest players I know…” but nonetheless released the Czech Republic native into free agency.  Last season Svitek signed a one-year deal with the New England Patriots as a back up to Nate Solder and Sebastian Vollmer, but saw only two starts after Marcus Cannon moved past him on the depth chart.

Signing Svitek this late in the offseason could indicate the Bengals are not as high on their rookie tackles as they would like, and if Svitek makes the roster he adds depth, experience, and mentorship to the younger linemen.  Also, it would allow the Bengals to keep one or even two of the others on the practice squad for development.  The possibly of Newhouse and Svitek would give the Bengals two tackles capable of playing on the left or right side, both with playoff experience, multiple starts, and familiarity defending elite quarterbacks.

In sum, the probably of the Bengals having a top five offensive line with appropriate depth again this season remains very high, with or without Collins.  Do not confuse stoicism and pragmatic behavior with old aimless and miserly trends; this is another example of Bengals personnel department making shrewd, patient decisions amid a host of talent.  When Vontaze Burict or AJ Green gets signed with money that would have otherwise gone to Collins, the grand strategy will seem a little clearer… you’ll see.