Bengals ORT Smith's health a key issue for OL

Posted April 15, 2011 @ 12:37 p.m.
Posted By Mike Wilkening

Bengals ORT Andre Smith has appeared in just 13-of-32 regular-season games in two NFL seasons and has broken his left foot twice since entering the league, and his health is an issue to watch in 2011, the way we hear it.

Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis addressed Smith's injury at the owners' meetings in March and said Smith is "trying to do everything he can to get his foot right," according to a transcript of Lewis' comments on Bengals.com. Said Lewis: "The foot injury has been hard, and the guy, the way he played in '09, I was feeling real good about it. Last year, he wasn't the same guy on the foot."

A pair of phone messages recently left for Alvin Keels, Smith's agent, regarding his client's progress from the foot injury were unreturned as of this writing.

Smith, who started four games at right tackle last season, is presently signed through the 2012 season; the Bengals hold an option to extend the deal through 2014. Lewis was displeased with Smith's approach entering last season, but Smith eventually earned the starting ORT job from Dennis Roland before being injured in November, and the Bengals' head coach had praised Smith's progress.

This week, Lewis told Bengals.com that the team's right tackle play needed to improve.

"We didn't play well enough at the right tackle position; we'd like to get better," Lewis said. "We have to get better through what we're doing. We've got to get better through coaching. And we may get better through personnel. We have to see what happens."

In addition to Smith and Roland, who started nine games, Anthony Collins (three starts) also saw action at right tackle.

The Bengals' other starting tackle, Andrew Whitworth, had a fine season on the left side of the line in 2010. A healthy Smith would provide a definite boost on the other side.