|Faine has a new job. (US Presswire)|
With Bengals center Kyle Cook out for the time being with a foot injury, the Bengals worked out former Buccaneers center Jeff Faine earlier this week, and on Wednesday, they signed him to a one-year contract.
Faine was released by the Buccaneers in April, and he had been unemployed since. Perhaps that's because NFL executives agreed with Pro Football Focus, which ranked him the fifth-worst center in the league last season (he was eighth-worst in 2010 and third-worst in 2009).
Plus, he was due nearly $13 million in the final two years of his Buccaneers contract, so the decision to release him couldn't have been a big surprise.
But the Bengals, who had undrafted rookie Trevor Robinson backing up Cook, are in desperate need if Cook is out for a while.
He hurt his foot last Thursday in the preseason game vs. the Packers, and he was in a boot Friday. At first, the injury didn't appear to be serious, but after visiting a foot specialist on Monday, suddenly Cook's season was in doubt.
“We have to explore some options because we don't know how much time he'll miss,” coach Marvin Lewis said, via the Cincinnati Enquirer. “He's trying to figure out what the best options are for him as well. All I know is he's not able to play this week and then we'll have to evaluate from there.”
The good news for Faine is that he has played with current Bengals offensive coordinator Jay Gruden and should be somewhat familiar with Cincinnati's scheme. Faine's first year in Tampa Bay in 2008 coincided with Jon Gruden's final season as the Buccaneers head coach (his brother Jay was an assistant on that squad).
“Anytime you have an opportunity to work with a guy that knows what you do, knows you and has some experience playing in these kind of situations, it's usually in your favor if that person is up to it,” Lewis said.
Still, Cook's status is unknown. As Bengals.com's Geoff Hobson notes, the team could decide to put him on the IR list before the final cuts or it could hold him on the 53-man roster in the hopes he could return some time this season. At this point, though, there's little doubt that Faine is a downgrade from Cook.
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