Williams’ signing leaves Cincy’s line intact
Bobbie Williams’ laughter filled the locker room after a workout
on Wednesday, reminding everyone within earshot that the Cincinnati
Bengals have taken a big step forward on offense.
They signed the right guard to a two-year contract this week,
keeping the offensive line intact from last season’s playoff run.
The move delighted Williams, who at age 33 is the line’s senior
member and wanted to stay for at least one more season.
“I made it well-known that I wanted to be back,” said
Williams, who was an unrestricted free agent. “We knew it was
going to happen.”
The offensive line was one of the biggest questions heading into
last season. Williams was the only starter lining up at the same
position, with everyone else moving around after the team
jettisoned left tackle Levi Jones and center Eric Ghiaciuc.
The plans had to be changed again after top draft pick Andre
Smith held out and then broke his left foot on Sept. 1, forcing the
right tackle to miss most of the season. Smith is expected to start
next to Williams this season.
Despite all the shuffling, the line played well enough to get
the Bengals into the playoffs for only the second time since 1991.
They ran the table against division opponents in the AFC North,
finished 10-6 and lost to the Jets in their first playoff game.
“Last year, everybody was saying there was no continuity with
the group and that was a big concern outside this locker room,”
quarterback Carson Palmer said. “Now that group has played
together and played successfully together and won big games and ran
the ball on good defenses.
“They have another year under their belt with each other. We’re
only going to get better up front from here on out.”
The Bengals went to a run-first philosophy last season, and
finished ninth in the league with an average of 128.5 yards per
game. The passing game was far less effective, finishing 26th out
of 32 teams. Cincinnati released receiver Laveranues Coles after
only one season and signed free agent Antonio Bryant as his
The line helped Bengals’ running backs have eight 100-yard
games, a franchise record. The Bengals kept the line together by
re-signing center Kyle Cook and Williams within a one-week
“It’s very important,” Williams said. “I felt we did a pretty
good job last year, being the first time together. Establishing
some continuity on that offensive line is crucial. It’s important
to the success that we’re trying to keep going and build on
While negotiations on Williams’ contract stretched on, Palmer
texted him to find out what was going on. Veterans wanted him to
stay because they thought his experience – and his personality –
were needed on one of the NFL’s youngest rosters.
“He’s played in so many games, been around so long, played
against every defensive front, played against every lineman in the
league,” Palmer said. “And just the attitude he brings.
“He’s one of the most fun guys I’ve had the opportunity to play
with. Day in and day out, he’s smiling and he’s laughing. But when
it gets time to work, he’s there to push people around and move
people. That’s what he does best.”