Whitworth Makes Presence Felt in Season Debut
By Joe Sorensen
Monday night against the Pittsburgh Steelers provided the fans with a sigh of relief – a savior in a way. One week after rushing for only 63 yards against the Chicago Bears in the season opener, the return of a key offensive lineman sparked a new-look running game for the Cincinnati Bengals.
Cincinnati’s Pro-Bowl left tackle Andrew Whitworth made his season debut Monday after undergoing knee surgery during the offseason. Before missing Week 1, Whitworth made 67 consecutive starts, which included both regular season and postseason games.
The return of the team’s second round pick in the 2006 NFL Draft is huge. Besides for Whitworth, the only other starter on the offensive line over the age of 30 is center Kyle Cook (30). The rest of the starters are guards Kevin Zeitler (23) and Clint Boling (24) and right tackle Andrew Smith (26). Even Whitworth’s replacement last week, Anthony Collins, is only 27 years old.
This week, the difference was felt in the team’s rushing game. In Week 1, without Whitworth, the team managed only 63 rushing yards on 21 carries (3 yards per carry). This week, with the 6-foot-7 Whitworth in the lineup, “The Law-Firm” (BenJarvus Green-Ellis) and the newly named “G-Man” (rookie running back Giovani Bernard) led the team to a total of 127 rushing yards on 34 carries (3.7 yards per carry).
Whitworth has already made an impact on a young and very dangerous offensive line for the Cincinnati Bengals.