- Coley Harvey, ESPN Cincinnati Bengals reporter
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CINCINNATI - Veteran Pro Bowl left tackle Andrew Whitworth took some less-than-subtle jabs at Cincinnati Bengals management Monday, expressing displeasure that contract talks haven't started between him and the organization.
The 10-year veteran who turns 34 in December is in the last year of his current deal. He called the team's approach regarding his pending free-agent status poor in "customer service," and that he felt like he was going down a "one-way street."
"I want to be above and beyond and do more than the average guy in this locker room," Whitworth said. "But it's hard to do that when the feeling's not reciprocated. Really, it's just a one-way street."
Whitworth spoke near the end of an open locker-room session that came after one of the Bengals' offseason training sessions. Monday marked the first day coaches were able to view some parts of the players' workouts.
Reporters originally approached Whitworth to get his thoughts on the Bengals using their first two picks in last weekend's draft on players at his position. He said he was as shocked as everyone else.
"I wish that there had been [conversations with the Bengals about drafting tackles], but I'm a big boy, I can handle it," Whitworth said. "This is my football team, I'm the captain of it. I've been the leader of it for a long time and don't plan on letting that change.
"At the end of the day, they did what they felt was best for the franchise."
"We picked who we thought were the best players on our football team when we had the opportunity to draft," Bengals offensive coordinator Hue Jackson said Friday night after Fisher was selected. "They ended up being two offensive linemen. So we think these guys are going to help us."
It was the first time since 1971 that the Bengals took two offensive linemen with their first two picks.
After getting back from the Kentucky Derby on Saturday night, Whitworth invited both rookies to his house to watch the Floyd Mayweather-Manny Pacquiao fight. Ogbuehi had to return home to Texas, but Fisher made it over, giving Whitworth time to get to know him. Whitworth said he's not going to shy away from mentoring either rookie tackle.
"[When the team says] we'd like you to be the leader of our football team, but we'd also like the best situation possible for us to talk to you when we want to, that's a one-way street and not really top-of-the-line in customer service," Whitworth said. "But it is what it is. Hopefully one day that conversation will be had and I'll be here."
Last week, Whitworth said he believed he could play until he was 40.
A 2006 Bengals second-round pick, Whitworth has helped the team reach the postseason in five of the last six years. He also was credited by Pro Football Focus as having the best pass-block efficiency rating among NFL offensive tackles. He allowed just 10 pressures and no sacks all of last season.
Veteran Pro Bowl left tackle Andrew Whitworth took some less-than-subtle jabs at Bengals management Monday, expressing displeasure that contract talks haven't started between him and the team.