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Smith’s absence gives rookies extra reps

Cincinnati Bengals offensive tackle Andre Smith continues to be a no-show for the voluntary offseason team activities, which entered their third week Monday.

Head coach Marvin Lewis said Smith is taking care of “personal issues,” and offensive coordinator Jay Gruden added that he isn’t overly concerned by the absence.

“Andre’s going to be ready,” Gruden said. “He’ll be in shape. He’s going through some things that he and coach Lewis know about. I’m sure when the time’s right he’s going to be here ready to go. As long as he’s keeping an eye on his weight, which I’m sure he is.”

One of the top free-agent tackles this offseason, Smith signed a three-year contract believed to be worth $18 million on April 25, which was the second day of the NFL Draft.

His absence — coupled with tackle Andrew Whitworth, guard Clint Boling and center Trevor Robinson all rehabbing injuries — has given the Bengals a chance to take a lot of mix-and-match looks at different combinations of young guys on the line.

Anthony Collins is taking most of the reps at Smith’s right tackle spot while rookie fifth-round pick Tanner Hawkinson has been filling in for Whitworth at left tackle in addition to playing some guard. Rookie seventh-rounders Reid Fragel (tackle) and T.J. Johnson (center) also are getting additional snaps.

“They are being thrown into the fire,” Gruden said. “I think they’ve done pretty well from a mental standpoint. Now from a physical standpoint with the technique and fundamentals it needs to come along. We’ll take our lumps from time to time but we have high expectations for them.”

Long drive

Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton is all in favor of long, sustained drives, but he could have done without the one he made Sunday night.

Dalton was in Texas for an autograph signing, but his direct flight from Houston to Cincinnati got canceled. He and his wife Jordan booked another flight that ended up being delayed, causing them to miss their connection in Chicago.

So they ended up renting a car and making the five-hour drive back to town.

“It was a long, long crazy day,” Dalton said. “I definitely wanted to be here (for voluntary OTAs), and my wife is getting her pilates certfication, and she had a big test today, so we had to make sure we got back.”

Another arm

Quarterback Alex Carder threw for Bengals coaches after Monday’s practice. The Western Michigan product signed a free agent contract with the Detroit Lions on May 3 but was released last week.

“It was just a workout because he just got released and we had a decent grade on him,” Gruden said. “I don’t know if we’re going to bring him in or not. That’s up to coach Lewis. As many guys as we can work out at the quarterback position I’m all for.”

Zac Robinson, who will compete with Josh Johnson and John Skelton to back up Dalton, has been dealing with a sore right elbow.

Home sick

Cincinnati Bengals tight end Jermaine Gresham grew up in Ardmore, Okla., which is about 90 miles south of Moore, where devastating tornadoes have hit twice in the last two weeks.

“Everybody’s good,” Greshman said when asked about family and friends. “It’s (messed) up. I hate seeing little kids like that.”

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