The Cincinnati Bengals will be without Pro Bowl left tackle Andrew Whitworth on Sunday in their season-opener against the Chicago Bears, a team the finished 8th in the league with 41 sacks last year, 11.5 of which were by All-Pro defensive end Julius Peppers.
At age 32, Peppers has the third-most career sacks (111.5) of any active NFL player. He’ll likely be matched-up against Anthony Collins, a backup tackle who hasn’t started a game for the Bengals since his lone start in 2011.
Last year, Collins had all of 64 snaps as a backup tackle behind Whitworth and Andre Smith, but playing behind two Pro Bowl-caliber tackles shows how hard it’s been for Collins to get on the field for the Bengals.
But until he shows he’s capable of being a quality tackle, there will be doubts, and there’s a lot of doubt that he’ll be able to even slow down Peppers on Sunday.
Still, Whitworth believes Collins is ready to step up and start in his place Sunday:
“I’ll be fully confident if it comes upon him because he’s a guy that can do it and can do it anywhere else,” Whitworth said Wednesday, before going out to practice but not participating. “He’d be starting anywhere else in the league if he had the opportunity to.”
So how has Collins improved this offseason in order to be prepared for a situation like this?:
“By looking at (Whitworth) and by paying attention to him – actually paying attention to him – during this offseason, I got better at watching film and watching the guy’s every move,” Collins said. “That’s how I think off the field I improved.”