Bengals’ Whitworth might miss opener at Chicago
CINCINNATI (AP) — Bengals left tackle Andrew Whitworth hasn’t fully recovered from offseason surgery to clean out his left knee, jeopardizing his chances of playing the season opener at Chicago.
The eighth-year veteran has started 67 consecutive games for the Bengals, who drafted him in the second round in 2006. The Bengals have gone easy with him during the offseason and training camp, giving him time to get the knee back to full strength.
Whitworth said on Wednesday that it’s up to the team’s medical staff to decide whether he’s available to play on Sunday. Whitworth was one of three players who didn’t participate in practice.
“Just continuing to work hard,” Whitworth said. “We’re really close. We’ll just see how things play out. It’s really out of my hands at this point. Just got to continue doing what I do every day and keep working hard.
Whitworth said the knee has been getting better. The Bengals have to decide whether it’s worth playing him on Sunday if there are any concerns about it.
“Oh yeah, things are better,” Whitworth said. “It’s really kind of a doctor’s decision. I keep working hard and put my head down and that’s all I can do. So I’m doing all I can do and trying to hold up my part.”
Coach Marvin Lewis was noncommittal about Whitworth’s chances of playing.
“We’ll see how he does this week,” Lewis said. “He’s been progressing to do more and more on the field, and that’s what we’re looking for, that both he and the medical people have a confidence that he’s ready to go, and we’re getting closer and closer to that.”
Sixth-year lineman Anthony Collins would replace Whitworth. Collins has filled in at both tackle spots, playing right tackle when Andre Smith was either missing offseason workouts or injured and filling in while Whitworth was working back from the surgery.
Collins has started 18 games during his career, the last two in 2011 at right tackle when Smith got hurt. The Bengals are confident he can hold his own if Whitworth is unavailable.
“Obviously we’d love to have him out there, but it’s not a concern,” quarterback Andy Dalton said. “AC has done a good job. He’s had a really good camp. He’s a player that’s been around for a while and understands everything we’re doing. So I’m really comfortable with AC out there.”
Last year, the offensive line was a work in progress after center Kyle Cook hurt his right ankle during the final preseason game. The running game struggled in the first part of the season. This time, the Bengals are prepared to be at less than full strength from the outset.
“Yeah, it’s a little bit different,” Dalton said. “AC’s been around a long time, he’s done a lot of really good things for us. We’ve won games with him in there. So there’s not a huge concern.”
NOTES: WR Andrew Hawkins went on injured reserve with a chance to return if his sprained left ankle heals after six weeks. The Bengals signed OT Dennis Roland, who was released in the final roster cutdown on Saturday, and added QB Greg McElroy to the practice squad. “Everything is set up for us to make a run at the Super Bowl,” Hawkins said. “If I can be fresh the last games of the season then going into the playoffs, I will hopefully come back and add a dimension to the offense.” ... DT Domata Peko did a “Gangnam Style” dance after his first sack last season, pleasing his two children. He’s coming up with something new for this year, though he won’t give any hints. “You’ll have to find out, man,” Peko said on Wednesday. “But yeah, we have been talking about different things. So whenever I get a sack or make a big play, I always try to do something for my kids.”
Online: http://pro32.ap.org/poll and http://twitter.com/AP_NFL