Whitworth could be moving inside Bengals' line
DEC 04, 2013 4:03p ET
The Pro Bowl left tackle got shifted inside the Bengals line when left guard Clint Boling tore a knee ligament during a 17-10 win in San Diego on Sunday. Whitworth might just stay at the guard spot when the Bengals (8-4) host the Indianapolis Colts (8-4) on Sunday.
It's a move that Whitworth embraces. He played guard earlier in his career and excelled at the position. Tackle Anthony Collins would start next to him.
"At tackle, it's a lot more light feet and dancing per se than at guard," Whitworth said on Wednesday. "At guard, it's more of a mauling position. It's a physical, strong, violent position. A lot of things you can do at guard, you're not allowed to do at tackle. You can't grab and throw guys, you can't really drive on guys that much."
Offensive coordinator Jay Gruden thinks that Whitworth's willingness to move is a good example for others on the team. Whitworth was picked for his first Pro Bowl last season.
"That's a great thing about Whit, he's a great leader and a Pro Bowl left tackle and it might affect his Pro Bowl status but he doesn't care, he just wants to help the team win," Gruden said. "And that's what we need around here."
The line shuffling didn't seem to bother the Bengals, who rushed for 164 yards against the Chargers.
"Those guys just stepped up," running back Giovani Bernard said. "That's the biggest thing about football these days: Once one guy goes down, you have to have somebody to step up and fill in. (Collins) did that for us. He did a great job for us. And Whit, having to move to a different position and still being able to do what he does, it helped us out."
Whitworth split time between tackle and guard in his first three seasons from 2006-08, moving around because of injuries. He settled in at left tackle in 2009 and has started every game there.
He found it challenging to change spots during a game, even though he knew what he was supposed to do at guard.
"It's a completely different position and really everything happens very different than it does at tackle," Whitworth said. "So it's an adjustment but having played it before, I did have some experience. It had been a long time. Definitely as the game went on, felt more confident doing different things."
He'll be more comfortable there on Sunday after practicing at guard this week.
"It will definitely be more beneficial to have a week to practice it," he said.
The Bengals' running game has been inconsistent, but they need to get it smoothed out heading into their December schedule. They have three games in Cincinnati and one in Pittsburgh.
"We figure the last four games, we have an opportunity for four bad-weather games," Gruden said. "So establishing some kind of running game is going to be important to keep the clock moving, keep our defense off the field and try to get something."
The Bengals aren't sure whether they'll have right guard Kevin Zeitler, who missed the past two games with an injured right foot. He was held out of practice on Wednesday. Their depth on the line and Whitworth's versatility gives them several options against the Colts.
"With Whit's versatility and unselfishness, we can play him anywhere and be pretty good," Gruden said.
Coach Marvin Lewis has declined to say how he'll configure the line on Sunday, though he says he's comfortable with Whitworth playing guard next to Collins at tackle.
Notes: Whitworth didn't fully practice on Wednesday because of a sore calf. He was hampered by two sore knees at the start of the season and has been getting time off on Wednesdays to rest. ... LB Vontaze Burfict (ankle), TE Tyler Eifert (knee), WR A.J. Green (groin), WR Andrew Hawkins (hamstring) and CB Adam "Pacman" Jones (hip) also were limited in practice. ... Punter Kevin Huber was honored as the AFC's special teams player of the week. He averaged 55.5 yards on four punts at San Diego and had a 75-yarder, tying the club record, and had two kicks inside the 20-yard line.