Cincinnati Bengals offensive tackle Andrew Whitworth missed his third consecutive practice Wednesday, but the eight-year veteran said it is just a minor issue as he continues to recover from offseason knee surgery.
“Any time you’re coming off surgery, you really don’t know how it’s going to react at all,” Whitworth said. “Strength-wise, it’s good, feels solid. You’re still going to have some bumps along the road as far as football’s a violent game, so you’re going to have to get yourself used to working yourself back through things. That’s why a lot of guys that have postseason surgery don’t do a lot in the preseason sometimes just because you’re kind of working through the whole deal of recovering from a surgery and trying to do football stuff.”
Whitworth has started every game the last four seasons and has missed only 10 of the 112 the Bengals have played since they drafted him in the second round in 2006. He also never missed a game or practice due to injury at LSU.
Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis said a player with Whitworth’s skill set and experience doesn’t need a lot of work in the preseason.
“He doesn’t need a whole lot,” Lewis said. “The thing you want to make sure of is that it’s important that he continues to have the stamina and everything to go out there and play a 12-, 14-, 15-, 16-play series. When you’re an offensive lineman, that’s the one area that never really rotates. If you look at every other area of football teams, guys sub in and sub out much more often, other than maybe the secondary. You look at offensive line and defensive backfield, if it’s a 70-play game, those guys generally are on the field for 70 plays.”
Bengals coach Marvin Lewis confirmed the reason defensive end Carlos Dunlap missed practice Wednesday was due to a mild concussion he suffered Monday.
“He went through the entire practice, so I don’t think it’s severe,” Lewis said. “He reported it after practice.”
Lewis said he couldn’t put a timetable on Dunlap’s return, but he did make it sound as though undrafted rookie defensive tackle Larry Black will be lost for the season.
Black, a Cincinnati product who went to Wyoming High School and Indiana University, suffered a dislocated right ankle early in Wednesday’s practice and was carted off the field.
“It’s an unfortunate thing,” Lewis said. “He’s a good kid, a good prospect. But it’s something he can come back from. He kind of gets that medical redshirt, and we’ll see what happens from there.”
Lewis also indicated the left knee defensive tackle Brandon Thompson suffered Sunday likely will keep him out a couple of weeks.
Cornerback Leon Hall (illness) missed a second consecutive practice, but he is expected back today. Tight end Alex Smith (knee) also sat out, and rookie running back Giovani Bernard (hamstring) dressed but didn’t work in 11-on-11 or 7-on-7 drills.
NFL teams have until Aug. 27 to trim their rosters to 75 players and until Aug. 31 to get down to the final limit of 53.
The assumption has been that those cuts will be tough for Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis, who appears to have the deepest roster of his 11-year tenure in Cincinnati. But Lewis made a surprising comment during Wednesday’s press conference.
“If I cut the football team right now, I could probably cut it to 56,” Lewis said. “Hopefully it’s more like 60, and those guys can start proving that next Thursday night (at Atlanta).”
Lewis did point to wide receiver Ryan Whalen as inspiration for players who may be on, or outside, the bubble at the moment.
“Last year, Ryan Whalen made the football team by what he did in the preseason and we ended up keeping an extra wide receiver than we thought likely,” Lewis said. “That’s a great thing and that’s what you want to have. You want to have guys make the football team by producing.”