Bengals OTs like Andre Smith slimmed down to fit faster offense


CINCINNATI -- We may have our first hint about part of what Cincinnati Bengals offensive coordinator Hue Jackson meant when he indicated last week he was unleashing Pandora's box with his offense this season.

Sure, knowing Jackson, some of that likely includes little-before-seen gadget plays and uncommon formations. It might include receiver Mohamed Sanu throwing a pass or two and quarterback Andy Dalton catching them. It could also include various pre-snap movements, all in an effort to keep opposing defenses off balance.

Whether the offense does any of that remains to be seen. But one thing we know it will be is fast.

Jackson has indicated that in the past, and right offensive tackle Andre Smith effectively confirmed it Saturday when he gave insight into why he went from weighing 345 pounds before getting hurt late last season to a noticeably more svelte 322 in training camp.

"[It's about] being able to play with the new mindset that Hue has," Smith said. "He wants everything to be quick, quick, quick. That's what we have to do. You have to prepare yourself in order to execute."

Similarly, fellow veteran tackle Andrew Whitworth trimmed down a bit this offseason and reported to training camp looking a shade slimmer than he did a few months ago. He's still listed at 330 pounds on the Bengals' latest roster, but he appears to be holding the weight slightly different than before.

"Lean Whit," Smith said, joking about changing Whitworth's nickname. "He's not Big Whit any more."

Both tackles are entering contract years and have plans to prove to the people who run the team that they ought to be re-signed. At the dawn of his seventh season, Smith is set to command a $6.36 million cap charge for 2015. Whitworth, coming into his 10th season, is slated to make $6.2 million. With likely higher or at least similar yearly figures anticipated for both in the coming seasons, the organization might find it difficult to bring back both of them as free agents.

In what appears to be an effort to brace for life without either Whitworth or Smith in the future after both retire or leave, the Bengals drafted a pair of rookie offensive tackles this year. First-round pick Cedric Ogbuehi is still working his way back from a December ACL tear, and second-round pick Jake Fisher is already filling in as a second-string backup.

"It's still a business at the end of the day," Smith said. "I still have to do what I have to do to prepare myself and give myself the best opportunity to be on the field."

Which meant working out often and making a few dietary changes this offseason. Smith contends he still can eat what he wants, he just had to learn better portion control. The size of his meals are a little smaller.

Smith also spent his offseason rehabbing from a triceps tear and was just cleared for full contact a week before camp opened. He spent the first two practices back at his familiar starting right tackle position.

When it comes to the speed of the Bengals' offense, Jackson wants the pace to step up. You likely will see less time between plays and the Bengals getting in and out of huddles -- or even having no huddles at times -- quicker than they have in recent seasons. It means the offensive linemen had to up their conditioning.

"He warned us," Smith said, smiling. "He's true to his word, as always."