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Bengals overhaul offense in preparation for season

"NFL Total Access" continues with its "32 teams in 32 days" series. We decided to score some brownie points by writing an accompanying post each night. We'll focus on one goal that each team needs to accomplish before Week 1.

Bengals bent on bettering themselves

Following a 10-6 season that resulted in a playoff berth in 2011, the Cincinnati Bengals underwent a minor offensive overhaul this offseason.

First, the Bengals showed that they were serious about moving on from running back Cedric Benson, the team's leading rusher the last four seasons, by signing former New England Patriots running back BenJarvus Green-Ellis to a three-year, $9 million contract.

Step two was letting free-agent wide receivers Jerome Simpson and Andre Caldwell, who had combined for nearly 30 percent of the team's receptions and receiving yards last season, walk away. To replace Caldwell and Simpson, the Bengals used a third-round pick on Mohamed Sanu. Either Sanu, Armon Binns or Brandon Tate will be asked to start opposite A.J. Green.

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Changes on offense were not limited to the skill positions. The Bengals are in the process of replacing both of their starting guards from 2011, with Nate Livings departing via free agency (to the Dallas Cowboys) and the team opting to not bring back 35-year-old right guard Bobbie Williams. The Bengals brought in Travelle Wharton to replace Livings at left guard and used a first-round pick on Wisconsin guard Kevin Zeitler to man the right-guard spot. Both are physical upgrades.

The challenge facing offensive coordinator Jay Gruden and offensive line coach Paul Alexander is to fully integrate these new parts before the start of the regular season. Getting Green-Ellis involved shouldn't be a problem. To improve one of the league's least efficient rushing attacks (ranking 27th in rushing yards per play), the Bengals are moving to a committee approach in the backfield, which "The Law Firm" should be comfortable with after never carrying the ball more than 230 times in a single season with the Patriots. The tougher tasks will be getting the inexperienced Sanu, Binns and Tate ready for larger roles and incorporating Wharton and Zeitler into the offensive line.

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