Cedric Ogbuehi got a holding penalty that wiped out a first down. On the next play, Andy Dalton was sacked for a safety , and the New England Patriots had grabbed the momentum.
Ogbuehi’s latest flub prompted the Cincinnati Bengals to bench the right tackle for the next three series. It didn’t make much difference — the Patriots soon were in total control and on their way to a 35-17 victory . And now the Bengals (2-4) are trying to figure out what to do with their struggling offensive line.
Coach Marvin Lewis said Ogbuehi — a first-round pick last year who is starting for the first time this season — will be back at right tackle when the Bengals host the winless Cleveland Browns on Sunday. It’s unclear how much leeway he’ll get if the rough times continue.
“Every young guy has growing pains, so these are his,” offensive coordinator Ken Zampese said. “He’ll work through them like every other young guy does. We just hope we can speed up the process.”
The offensive line has been one of several glaring problems during the Bengals’ worst start in six years. Dalton has been sacked 19 times, tied with Cleveland for second-most sacks allowed in the NFL. Indianapolis has allowed 23 sacks.
Ogbuehi took over for Andre Smith, who went to Minnesota as a free agent. He has struggled in the past two games, a pair of lopsided losses in Dallas and New England. He wound up compounding his mistakes as defenses went after him, resulting in the benching.
“He’s a really talented guy,” Dalton said. “He’s going to get it figured out, I believe that. But for him, he’s got to put in the time and effort and really look deep down in himself and make sure he does everything the right way. I don’t expect anything different from him.”
Eric Winston replaced Ogbuehi in the third quarter on Sunday and sat next to him on the flight home, providing advice and reassurance. Left tackle Andrew Whitworth and guard Clint Boling also reassured him that every first-year lineman struggles.
“We watch guys like Eric and Whit and you can tell they have been playing the game a long time,” Ogbuehi said. “The game looks slow. Basically, it’s just getting to the point where the game is slow.”
Ogbuehi was benched one other time, during his first season as a starter at Texas A&M. On Sunday in New England, the Bengals put him back on the field for the final series, which amounted to a pair of run plays.
“He had some time to sit and think, and then get back out there a little bit,” Zampese said. “Hopefully there’s something learned in that.”
Lewis said without hesitation that Ogbuehi will be the starting right tackle against the Browns.
“We expect big things from Ced,” Lewis said. “We’re going to continue to coach him hard to get it done right, all the time. That’s what he’s expected to do.”
Notes: This week provides a chance for Ogbuehi to regroup against a struggling defense. The Browns are 29th in yards allowed and have only nine sacks, tied for sixth-fewest in the league. … Lewis and Zampese praised the play of T.J. Johnson, a third-year player who took over at center after Russell Bodine sprained an ankle in the third quarter. It’s unclear how long Bodine might be sidelined.