Alex Redmond hasn’t played tackle since his sophomore year of high school, but the Cincinnati Bengals are giving him a look as their fifth left tackle.
The Bengals lost expected starter Jonah Williams to a shoulder injury during the offseason, Cordy Glenn remains out with a concussion and now Andre Smith has his left foot in a boot with an ankle ailment. That leaves just John Jerry – and now Redmond – as they prepare for Sunday’s road game against the Baltimore Ravens.
Redmond returned from a four-game suspension on a roster exemption last week, but he was officially added to the 53-man roster Monday.
“We don’t have any more tackles left, so they feel like I’m the only guard they probably could push out there,” Redmond said Thursday. “I’m ready to play some ball. I couldn’t care (where), I’m ready to roll.”
A 2016 college free agent signee of the Bengals, Redmond worked his way into a starting role at right guard last year and saw time on 93.1 of the team’s offensive snaps over 15 appearances. The Bengals re-signed him to a one-year deal this offseason as an exclusive rights free agent, despite bringing in John Miller on a three-year, $16.5 million contract.
Redmond opened the season on suspension for violating the league’s performance-enhancing drug policy and said it was difficult watching the team struggle and not be able to do anything to help.
“I feel like I let everybody down, which I did, and I’ve just got to keep it moving,” Redmond said. “I’m not there anymore, we’re on to the next week and just keep it pushing.”
Redmond remained in Cincinnati while serving his suspension and said he was doing everything he could to stay on top of things, working out and studying his playbook. Although he wasn’t allowed at the facility until last week, he doesn’t feel behind.
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“I feel like they got me caught up pretty good,” Redmond said. “We just play fast. I was here a long while before I got suspended. I was getting taught up and stuff, so I’m not worried about what I need to do.”
The 24-year-old from UCLA started working out at tackle last week and said he feels more comfortable each day he’s out there. Right tackle Bobby Hart and Jerry especially have been helpful in the transition to tackle, but the only real difference, Redmond said, is that a guard sets up in more of a flat position, while a tackle gets more vertical.
“It’s like anything,” Redmond said. “You get the river flowing and soon you can be the Grand Canyon or just be a little trickle-down stream, so it’s what you want to do and how much pressure and water you want to put down that path. I feel like I’ve been doing everything I need to to make sure I’m ready.”
The Bengals could be changing up the whole left side of the line again.
Bengals head coach Zac Taylor said the plan is for Billy Price to start at left guard, as he replaces rookie Mike Jordan. Price, the team’s 2018 first-round draft pick at center, started in Jordan’s place in a Week 3 loss at Buffalo but Jordan returned from a knee injury the following week and has started the last two games.
“We haven’t had success on offense,” Taylor said. “It’s not one person by any stretch, but we’ll look at Billy at guard. We’ve always had a lot of confidence in him. We have a lot of confidence in Mike Jordan too, but this is something we want to look at this week.”
Taylor feels comfortable with the depth at guard, which is why Redmond’s return has resulted in him practicing at tackle. Jerry showed improvement Sunday but the Bengals need another option even if they stick with Jerry as the starter.
“What I like about Alex Redmond is his attitude,” Taylor said. “He’s dialed in, he’s physical and he’s spent a lot of extra time making sure he knows what his role is. Having missed those first four weeks of the season, he’s done a good job trying to get reacquainted to what we’re doing on offense.”
Redmond believes his ability to “finish plays” will help him at left tackle, as he will be tasked with keeping the rush off Andy Dalton if given the opportunity Sunday. The Ravens have traditionally been a strong pass rushing team but no longer have Za’Darius Smith or Terrell Suggs, and they currently have just nine sacks through five games – ranking among the bottom eight teams in the league.
“I was told by a couple coaches I was the most finishing guy they’ve seen play so that’s something I hang my hat on,” Redmond said. “I feel like that puts me in a good position a lot of times. Initially you might not win every battle, but I feel like at the end of the day, I’m going to win most of the war. They are not going to get one over on me. I am going to keep pushing forward.”
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