The Cincinnati Bengals drafted Jonah Williams in the first round for a reason, and they’re wasting no time getting him involved with the first-team offensive line at the position he wants to play.
Williams lined up at left tackle on the first day of Organized Team Activities (OTAs) on Monday, and veteran Cordy Glenn appears slated in as the starting left guard after seven seasons on the outside. Bobby Hart returned at right tackle, free agent pickup John Miller was at right guard and Billy Price remains the center.
Head coach Zac Taylor said the roles could change day-to-day, but the group that lined up together Monday is indicative of the direction he’s initially thinking they will go. He wants to have roles determined as soon as possible.
“We put the first five out there that we think would be a good chance of helping us and we’ll see how that goes,” Taylor said. “… We’ll find what works best. You do want five guys to develop some chemistry with one another and so the more reps they get together the better, but we’re going to find that right combination as soon as we can.”
If Monday’s first group works out, that means Clint Boling is headed for the bench. He was among a big group that didn’t participate with the rest of the team and instead did some work on the rehab field, but entering the last season of his contract, he already seems like he’s on the outside looking in.
Glenn doesn’t sound overly enthused about his move to guard, a position he hasn’t played since his junior year at the University of Georgia, but the eighth-year veteran is handling it like a pro, Taylor said.
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“I love his mindset, it’s been outstanding,” Taylor said. “He just wants to help us win and that’s what you appreciate about Cordy.”
Glenn had an idea his role might change when the Bengals took Williams 11th overall, but he said he is “just embracing it and trying to get better.” Williams started all 44 games of his career at Alabama, including the last year years at left tackle after playing right tackle as a freshman.
Williams will be owed a reported $11 million this year between his base salary and signing bonus.
“I played (guard) before, but obviously when we drafted Jonah it was going to be different, especially with that type of investment,” Glenn said. “I just have to do whatever to help out the team. That’s what it comes down to honestly.”
Glenn said offensive line coach Jim Turner sat down with him and had a “man-to-man talk” about the change, but he was more or less told instead of asked. When asked if he expects to be at guard when the season starts, he said, “I don’t know.”
For now, he’s just keeping his head down and trying to improve. The biggest part of the adjustment, he said, is getting use to the “sudden contact inside” and recalling the technique.
“Outside is a little more patient, take more steps,” Glenn said. “Sometimes you take four or five steps before you touch somebody. Inside it is, like, right there.
“It’s different. Especially OTAs because we don’t have pads on so we have to kind of really get the true fit and true technique down because there is no pads on. It’s just t-shirts. But just working on footwork and making those first couple steps, getting them in the ground and that type of stuff. There is always something to work on.”
The first day left plenty of room for improvement for everyone, as Taylor wasn’t happy with the number of unforced errors and times the ball hit the ground.
Williams felt like it was a pretty standard first day as far as seeing things to improve, but called it “an honor” to be practicing with the first-team offensive line the first day of OTAs.
“I came in expecting to just go wherever they put me,” Williams said. “They had me at left tackle in rookie minicamp and had me at left tackle today so I’m just trying to do my best at that position and that’s it right now.”
Glenn said he can help Williams make the transition to left tackle at the NFL level because he has been through that before, and he can also see things from the guard spot that will be helpful to the rookie.
Williams hasn’t felt any awkwardness with Glenn, despite the fact he is taking Glenn’s old spot.
“He’s been really great, really helpful,” Williams said. “Being a veteran guy, he’s savvy and communicates well as far as what do we have on this play or how can I do a better job or what did he do wrong that could help me. Constantly going back and forth and having that communication helps us out a lot.”
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