More bad news for Bengals

By Marc Hardin
FOX Sports Ohio | Bengals Insider
Friday, November 12th, 2010

There is trouble afoot on the Bengals’ offensive line.

Second-year right offensive tackle Andre Smith, who was just beginning to realize his massive potential after nailing down the starting spot three weeks ago, is out for the season.

Smith, the Bengals’ first-round pick last year despite concerns about his weight, broke a bone in his left foot for the second year in a row. The injury occurred Wednesday during practice when a player stepped on Smith’s foot during a pass protection drill.

“It’s a shame. He was starting to come on,” offensive line coach Paul Alexander said of last year’s sixth overall draft pick.

Smith, who has played in seven games, said today that his season is probably over. The decision now will be regarding surgery. Will he have it or not?

Right now Smith isn’t saying, but it could happen as soon as next week.

“It was a blow, but it will be a bump in the road, not a block,” he said.

According to the Bengals, Smith suffered a stress fracture of the fifth metatarsal, the bone on the outside of the foot. The bone is next to the fourth metatarsal that Smith broke last season. He had the first injury surgically repaired in January.

With Smith lost for the remainder of the schedule, Dennis Roland, who started the first six games at the position, will re-assume starting duties at right tackle. Anthony Collins will be the back-up.

The injury comes with bad timing. The Colts feature a pair of excellent pass-rushing defensive ends in Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis, who leads the team with 6 1/2 sacks and will be coming right at Roland. With both Freeney and Mathis on the other side, it will be difficult for the Bengals to do any double-teaming on the edges.

The big picture regarding Smith and his future with the Bengals is mitigated by the financial picture. The team during the offseason needs to decide if it wants to exercise a $5 million option in Smith’s contract that would extend its length from four years to six years. With past history showing that Smith gains weight during the offseason and does not always take seriously his conditioning routine, there is the fear that Smith always will have too much weight to bear on his left foot, increasing risk of re-injury.

PALMER SORE, NOT WORRIED: Quarterback Carson Palmer has been dealing with a sore shoulder this week and has been limited in practice, missing Wednesday and Thursday sessions before splitting Friday snaps with backup Jordan Palmer and No. 3 Dan LeFevour. Palmer, who suffered the injury while getting hit Monday night in the loss to Pittsburgh, said he is sore and wanted to rest the shoulder to ensure that he can play on Sunday at Indianapolis. “Not worried at all,” was how Palmer characterized his readiness for the 1 p.m. game vs. the Colts. Coach Marvin Lewis said following Friday’s practice that Palmer will probably play on Sunday.

BIG HURTS – Of more concern on the injury front are those injuries involving safety Chris Crocker (leg) and defensive tackle Tank Johnson (knee). Crocker missed all three days of practice this week. Williams hasn’t practiced since last week. With Crocker hurt, every Bengals defensive back has been injured at one point this season. If he doesn’t play, Reggie Nelson will see more snaps and possibly start at free safety. If Johnson is out, Pat Sims will start on the line.

COLTS RIDE ROUGHSHOD: Indianapolis (5-3) dominates the series against the Bengals (2-6). This is the 24th regular-season meeting. The Colts lead it 15-8 and are riding a six-game winning streak against Cincinnati. Since the franchise relocated to Indianapolis in 1984, the Colts hold an 11-4 advantage. Considering how close in proximity the teams are – they are the closest geographical rivalry among cities in the AFC (110 miles) – they should have a hotter on-field rivalry, but the Bengals have not won often enough to make that so. This marks the fourth season in six years the teams have met. The Colts and Bengals are scheduled to meet next year in Cincinnati.

SELLOUT STREAK IN JEOPARDY: The Bengals are expecting their franchise-record sell-out streak of 57 straight at Paul Brown Stadium to end with the Nov. 21 game against Buffalo. The Bills still are without a win at 0-8 and the Bengals are off to a disappointing 2-6 start. That’s not a recipe for can’t-miss entertainment. Ticket sales manager Andrew Brown told the team’s official site: “There is a meaningful number of tickets left for the Buffalo game. As a result, we don’t expect the game being sold out.” He said the Dec. 5 game against New Orleans has the best chance for a sell-out among the remaining games while sales are lagging for the Dec. 19 game vs. Cleveland and the Dec. 26 game against San Diego.

ANOTHER SLOW START: This is the third season in the last four that the Bengals have started 2-6 or worse. In the two previous instances, Cincinnati finished with losing records (4-11-1 in 2008, 7-9 in 2007).

ODOM ON THE WAY: Defensive end Antwan Odom is eligible to return to the Bengals on Monday. He is serving the rest of his four-game suspension for violating the league’s substance abuse policy.