One of the Cincinnati Bengals biggest lineup switches last season is expected to be reversed this year, but when the team took the field for the first OTA practice Tuesday afternoon at Paul Brown Stadium, Andrew Whitworth lined up at guard.
An All-Pro tackle in 2012, Whitworth moved to guard in December last year after Clint Boling suffered a season-ending knee injury. Boling is still rehabbing the knee, and Mike Pollak also sat out OTAs, resulting in Trevor Robinson lining up at center, Whitworth at guard and offseason free-agent acquisition Marshall Newhouse at tackle.
“It’s similar to last year when Clint and (right guard Kevin) Zeitler were hurt at the time I played inside,” Whitworth said. “You’re trying to put your best guys out there formation-wise. Also, it’s just early. We are trying to work around positions and hypothetically who will be ready when we get to camp and who won’t. Kind of working through all that.
“You are really just trying a lot of stuff,” he added. “Tomorrow may be different you just never know.
Also of note from the first practice was the running back rotation. Second-year back Giovani Bernard took the snaps with the first team, while rookie second-rounder Jeremy Hill ran with the 2s, followed by BenJarvus Green-Ellis.
On defense, first-round pick Darqueze Dennard played corner opposite Dre Kirkpatrick on the second unit, while Terence Newman and Adam Jones handled the first-team duties.
Dennard said if the first practice taught him anything, it’s that he still has a lot to learn.
“My mind’s just going 100 mph, so I’m just upset with that,” he said. “I thought I knew everything in the playbook, but I just have to slow it down in my head to contribute. I wasn’t disappointed. You’re always going to have room to improve.”
Fifth-round pick AJ McCarron did not throw due to some shoulder tightness.
More signings: The Bengals officially announced the signing of second-round running back Jeremy Hill and third-round defensive end Will Clarke on Tuesday.
“Now my first order of business is to find some place nice to live and get my dog up here,” Hill said of his lab mix named Shaq. “Once he gets up here I’ll really be happy.”
The 6-foot-1, 233-pound Hill set the LSU school record for career yards per rush at 6.25. He had six rushes of 50 yards or more last year.
Clarke (6-6, 271) exceled at both defensive tackle and end during his career at West Virginia. He had six sacks and 17 tackles for a loss last season.
The other five picks who signed last week are center Russell Bodine (fourth round, North Carolina), quarterback AJ McCarron (fifth round, Alabama), linebacker Marquis Flowers (sixth round, Arizona), wide receiver James Wright (seventh round, LSU) and cornerback Lavelle Westbrooks (seventh round, Georgia Southern).
Only Dennard remains unsigned.
“It doesn’t matter, when it comes, it comes,” Dennard said. “Money’s not a big thing on my mind. The only thing on my mind is helping the team out and winning championships.”
Dalton patient: Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton talked to reporters after practice about how much he likes new offensive coordinator Hue Jackson’s up-tempo style, but things aren’t moving as quite as quickly in terms of negotiating a new contract.
Asked if he had a deadline in mind for when he would consider cutting off talks, Dalton said, “We haven’t got to that point yet. Both sides are still talking. We’re hopefully we’ll get something done.”