As the Cincinnati Bengals struggle with injuries along the offensive line, fans may get their first look at rookie offensive lineman Hakeem Adeniji.
Unfortunately for the Cincinnati Bengals, their worst unit, the offensive line, has begun to struggle with injuries just as they were beginning to gain traction. After performing relatively well against the Indianapolis Colts, multiple guys along the trenches fell victim to injury in the following week against the Cleveland Browns.
Right tackle Bobby Hart has already been ruled out of next week’s contest against the Tennessee Titans, all but guaranteeing swing tackle Fred Johnson will be inserted into the starting five. If that weren’t enough, the jury is still out on left tackle Jonah Williams, who is struggling with a neck injury.
The initial buzz, according to Ian Rapoport, is that the ailment is relatively minor in the grand scheme of things but there’s a chance Williams misses the upcoming game as well. If that’s the case, fans could get their first look at former sixth-round pick and rookie Hakeem Adeniji.
Were the Bengals bluffing about Hakeem Adeniji?
If week eight is indeed the first extended look WhoDey nation gets at Hakeem Adeniji, they’ll quickly get a gauge on whether all the hype he received this offseason was warranted. Offensive line coach Jim Turner reportedly had a second-round grade on the Kansas product and Bengals’ Senior Writer Geoff Hobson insisted he would ‘be a starter at some point’.
For the sake of Joe Burrow’s health, let’s hope those evaluations are true. The Titans don’t have an outstanding pass rush, certainly not at the level of some of the other clubs Cincinnati has faced, but they can still wreak havoc.
While the situation is dicey, this could actually be a blessing in disguise for the Bengals. Priority number one, two, and three should always be protecting Burrow but by being forced to insert Adeniji into the starting lineup, they’ll get a better picture of where they stand in the offensive line rebuild.
Perhaps Adeniji can be the answer at guard or right tackle, a notion that has been expressed by the director of the Senior Bowl Jim Nagy and offensive lineman guru Duke Manyweather. Regardless, the front office will get an idea of what they need to acquire via free agency and the draft.
As the week progresses, keep an eye out for the rookie with smooth footwork. He could just end up being an X-Factor for a floundering offensive line.