Morning Stripes: A nod to Bengals backups


This edition of the Morning Stripes is dedicated to a trio of Cincinnati Bengals backup linebackers who can be easy to forget and a starting offensive lineman who could briefly become a backup next season if his recovery from a season-ending injury progresses more slowly than he anticipates.

It can be difficult to remember that Emmanuel Lamur, who figures to be a key piece of the Bengals' linebacker rotation, is even on the team. After being lost for the entire 2013 season to an injury suffered in the final preseason game, he quickly faded from the depth chart, disappearing into the black hole that the injured reserve list can sometimes become. He was joined there by another rookie linebacker, Sean Porter, who also suffered a season-ending injury in the preseason.

Without their services, the Bengals were forced to be creative with some of their plans at linebacker, particularly when it came to certain pass defense packages. Since they were forced into playing so many offenses with two-tight-end or multiple-receiver sets early in the season, the Bengals had plans to use Lamur in nickel coverage. Once he was lost for the year, though, they tweaked that role in part by adding to safety Taylor Mays' responsibilities.

All signs currently point toward Lamur and Porter being healthy for training camp. Their presence should give the Bengals the depth at three linebacker positions that they lacked during the regular season.

We'll get to the third linebacker, Jayson DiManche, later in this post. Although it can be easy to forget about him as a defensive player because of where he ranks on the depth chart, there are many people back in his hometown who will let him know this weekend that they remember him quite well and quite fondly. More on that in the links portion of this post.

Left guard Clint Boling was a starter throughout 2013 until he tore his ACL in Week 13, effectively ending his season. Boling is pegging a summertime return from the injury. Rehab times from ACL surgery can vary. While it's wholly possible for him to recover that quickly from a December surgery to repair the ligament, it's also possible for that recovery period to be a little longer. If it does go longer than he anticipates, Boling might not start the season at the spot he began last year.

It's also not yet a foregone conclusion that he would start there even if fully healthy by August. Pro Bowl left tackle Andrew Whitworth was moved to left guard after Boling's injury and helped create an even more physical tone to the offense because of the way his large, yet athletic frame was able to pull and block on the line's interior. While Whitworth maintains that he is a left tackle, the Bengals will spend part of the offseason debating whether they want to move him to guard more permanently, giving them even more incentive to re-sign tackle Anthony Collins. A longtime backup in Cincinnati, Collins is set to earn a veteran starter's salary when free agency begins next month. He could be lured away.

Here's a little more on each of the aforementioned backups:

  • Bengals.com's Geoff Hobson caught up with Lamur and Boling as each detailed their recovery processes and how they anticipate factoring heavily into the team's schemes by the start of training camp.

  • According to The Times of Trenton (N.J.), DiManche, a backup linebacker who mainly starred on special teams in 2013, will be back home in Hamilton, N.J., this weekend to be honored by his alma mater, Hamilton High School. A special ceremony will occur before a basketball game Saturday. The undrafted free agent signed last May.