It is a perfect time to play Meadowlark Media’s Amin Elhassan’s world-famous “Pitino game.” -- The Cincinnati Bengals edition. Let’s begin.
Stacy Andrews ain't walking through that door! Rod Jones (the other one) ain’t walking through that door! Anthony Collins ain’t walking through that door! Cordy Glenn ain’t walking through that door! And no matter how much you do not want to hear it, Andrew Whitworth ain’t walking through that door! Ironically, Bobby Hart will be walking through that door, but as a member of the Buffalo Bills.
One name that you are going to hear a lot this week is Isaiah Prince. This is fitting as he was a starter in last year's Super Bowl. However, a more curious name we should pay more attention to is D’Ante Smith.
D'Ante Smith is getting lost in the shuffle
While Prince is an obvious choice to activate off the practice squad, Smith is already on the active roster. Logically, one would think that Smith is “the next man up” over Prince. And yet, he seems to be an afterthought in the minds of most Bengals fans and perhaps even the coaching staff.
Smith, a second-year player out of East Carolina showed promise in his preseason stints at tackle.
Despite his potential, it was Jackson Carman who got the call at left tackle when Jonah Williams left the game due to injury.
From the outside, it looked as if Carman, who had four regular season offensive snaps, fell out of favor with this coaching staff. It now appears that is even more the case for Smith considering that he is listed as the backup left and right tackle on the Bengals’ official depth chart while ceding the backup role to Carman. Smith only took six offensive snaps in the regular season.
Smith dealt with injuries last season which limited his opportunities. That is something that undoubtedly contributed to the team going all in on the o-line in the offseason. Injuries have crept in a bit this season for Smith as well.
Nevertheless, with the playing status of Alex Cappa up in the air and what appears to be a significant injury to Williams, Cincinnati must look to shore up the offensive line. Smith, a 2021 fourth-round draft pick, has a chance to step up this week and show that he is ready.
Working in Smith at left tackle and activating Prince to back up Hakeem Adeniji could allow Carman and Scharping to rotate at the right guard spot. But that would depend on the staff’s belief in Smith to man the left side. While Carman will receive scrutiny for some negative plays at left tackle in Sunday night's game, Scharping did nothing to instill confidence in his ability to be an answer at right guard.
Whether the coaching staff chooses or is forced to play Smith, he must know that his number can be called at any moment now, and it is imperative he is ready if that scenario arises. And we as fans must hope that he is prepared when/if that time comes. After all, Dennis Roland ain’t walking through that door!
We love the Bengals 3,000. Who Dey?!