Cincinnati Bengals: 5 Situations To Watch Tomorrow Night

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The Rest of the Offensive Line

Some of the story for the Bengals’ 2014 offense line could be told tomorrow evening. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

It should be interesting to watch how the line functions tomorrow night considering that several players (starters) won’t be participating. Tackle Andre Smith has already been ruled out and fellow tackle Andrew Whitworth was just cleared to practice two days ago, after recovering from a calf injury, so I wouldn’t expect to see him much, if at all. Clint Boling isn’t expected to play as he slowly recovers from last year’s ACL injury and, though nothing has been reported, Mike Pollak has also been slowly working his way back from a knee injury. All this should provide guys like Marshall Newhouse, Tanner Hawkinson, and Trey Hopkins extra snaps to showcase their skills. I don’t expect any of them to start come the regular season, but two things are important to consider here.

First, Newhouse was one of the few prioritized signings this off-season, due to the departure of Anthony Collins to Tampa Bay. This game will provide the tackles with stiff competition as the Chiefs possess a deep group of rushers in Tamba Hali, Justin Houston, and rookie Dee Ford; Ford will especially be looking to prove himself, so the tackles need to be ready for the challenge. If Newhouse can hold his own against this type of competition, then he could really boost his stock. As we saw Collins take over a tackle last year, effectively moving Whitworth to guard, Newhouse has the opportunity here to prove himself worthy of being the first lineman off the bench if injuries effect the line once more. This game should mean a lot to the first-year Bengal.

Second, this situation gives Hopkins the opportunity to showcase himself and earn a spot on the final roster. To this point in camp, Hopkins has been given a couple of opportunities to play with the starter’s and has impressed while doing so. It’s these types of game snaps that could solidify Hopkins onto the roster. As the starters get healthy, they’ll need some snaps to get themselves into game shape, so this preseason game may provide Hopkins with the most snaps. With a strong showing, Hopkins would seriously improve his chances to make this roster (especially if the Bengals choose to go with nine linemen on the final roster). Hopkins will need to be ready, as he’ll have the chance to hold his own against a powerful defensive tackle, Dontari Poe. But like Newhouse, stiff competition will provide the opportunity for Hopkins to raise his stock all-the-more.