Bengals revamped offensive line ‘eager’ to get to work

CINCINNATI -- Cincinnati Bengals coach Zac Taylor called the revamped offensive line an “eager” group after seeing them together on the field for the first time this week.

The Bengals brought in three new starters through free agency with the addition of center Ted Karras, right guard Alex Cappa and right tackle La’el Collins, and they drafted another versatile lineman in Cordell Volson out of North Dakota State.

The rookies and veterans combined for their first on-field drills Monday and in front of media for the first time Tuesday, as part of Phase 2 of the offseason workout program.

“It’s been a fun group to be around,” Taylor said. “They love ball. We talk about wanting guys who love ball. That’s a group that to a man loves ball and they’re soaking up everything Frank (Pollack) has to say, so it’s been fun to observe them down there in the drills, watch them in the meeting rooms. We’re really happy with the character of the group.”

Collins re-iterated his personal excitement being in Cincinnati after Dallas released him to save some salary cap space. He said the Bengals were the only team on his mind as he was in a waiting period of finding out if he would stay with the Cowboys or not.

As soon as he found out he was being released he made arrangements and flew into town that night. In Cincinnati he is reunited with the first offensive line coach he played for in the league, Frank Pollack.

“I feel like this is revamping my career being able to come here and being one of the older guys in the room and being a vet, being around and knowing what (Frank Pollack) expects out of guys,” Collins said. “For me, I feel like I was already raised in that because I had Frank my first two years so I was brought up the right way, but now it’s just getting back to it so I couldn’t be more happy and I couldn’t be more excited.”

The Bengals’ new offensive linemen are well aware of the expectations they walked into after quarterback Joe Burrow was sacked 70 times last year and ended the season getting hit by Aaron Donald on his last throw in the Super Bowl – an incomplete fourth down attempt in a 23-20 loss.

Collins said the group is up to the task of taking that pressure off Burrow.

“When you look at this group, we have experience, so I think they did a great job forming this offensive line,” Collins said. “Now we got to do a great job returning on that investment.”

Karras and Cappa both won Super Bowls with Tom Brady, in their time with New England and Tampa Bay, respectively. Karras said he looks forward to now playing in front of Burrow, another rising quarterback that has the same kind of “cool” as Brady.

The two are off to a good start, Karras said, as they work on building chemistry in the snaps.

“He definitely does have similarities (to Brady),” Karras said. “I think that comes from obviously his performance and his rapport with the guys and you know he’s gonna keep building it and he’s obviously still a younger player in this league going into year three. I think he has a great QB presence and it’s been pretty smooth these first few days.”

With three new starters settling in, the chemistry of the group as whole will be important to the success of the offense, Collins said. The unit will work to build that this offseason through repetition together on the field and in getting to know one another outside of practices and meetings.

Continuity is rare in the NFL, so the offseason workout program is a big part of creating that before training camp and the regular season roll around. If the offensive line puts in the work now, Collins sees no reason why the Bengals can’t be as successful or more so than last year.

“You’ve got the crew and the potential to do it, but potential without work means nothing,” Collins said of the expectations. “We’ve got to continue to put the work in everyday. Obviously, that was a great season last year, but our eyes are pointing forward.

“The key is simply putting in the work, repetition. The more you rep something, the better you become. When you’re able to play fast, you’re able to play your best and we all know when you’re playing at your best, smart player, richer player.”

Bengals sign draft pick

The Bengals on Thursday announced the signing of safety Tycen Anderson, the team’s fifth-round pick out of Toledo.

Anderson (6-foot-2, 209 pounds) was a three-team captain for the Rockets and a first-team, All-Mid-American Conference selection lst season.

The Bengals signed first-round pick Dax Hill, a defensive back from Michigan, on Wednesday.

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