Andre Smith deal close?

Posted by ESPN.com's James Walker

The long, drawn-out saga between the Cincinnati Bengals and first-round pick Andre Smith could be coming to an end.

According to reports, the team is close to ending its 30-day contract battle with the rookie right tackle and a deal could be finalized soon.

The Bengals have a short week of practice before taking the field Thursday in the preseason finale against the Indianapolis Colts. Smith's status would depend on his readiness to play. He's been working out independently in Alabama during his holdout.

Cincinnati certainly needs him. The pass protection has been shaky all preseason and starting quarterback Carson Palmer is already nursing an ankle injury.

Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis has been leaving the door open for Smith to help the team in Week 1 against the Denver Broncos. But missing a month of practices could make starting Smith right away a risky idea.