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Andy Dalton's blind-side protector could miss Week 1

Around The League's injury roundup noted that Cincinnati Bengals left tackle Andrew Whitworth's status is in doubt for Sunday's season opener versus the Chicago Bears.

Whitworth has missed the entire preseason with a left knee injury. The Bengals re-signed swing tackle Dennis Roland on Tuesday, but it isn't a move that inspires confidence in Whitworth's health entering the season.

In fact, The Cincinnati Enquirer's Joe Reedy believes there's an "outside shot" it will be Whitworth rather than wide receiver Andrew Hawkins who ends up drawing the injured reserve-designated to return tag.

Speaking to reporters Monday, Whitworth provided no timetable for his return.

As a former Cincinnatian, I can report with confidence that this year's edition of the Bengals' roster is the first of my lifetime that appears to boast the best talent in the division on both sides of the ball.

If Whitworth misses significant action, though, that might no longer be the case. A top-six left tackle in Pro Football Focus' player ratings for three years running, Whitworth is the team's most valuable offensive lineman.

Considering quarterback Andy Dalton's struggles when the ball doesn't come out quickly, an extended absence from Whitworth is cause for alarm in what projects to be a tight AFC North race.

Who can fail to appreciate a blind-side protector with the mindset below?

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