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CINCINNATI (AP) — Bengals captain Andrew Whitworth got permission to attend rookie camp on Saturday and mentor the linemen who were taken in the draft. He also spent some time on the sideline clarifying his remarks to ownership.
The 10th-year veteran talked to owner Mike Brown and other members of his family about comments expressing frustration over his uncertain status with the team. Whitworth was upbeat as he left the field when practice ended.
"I think they know that I love this place and I want to be here, and they know what I am to this organization and I know what they are to me," said Whitworth, with his 4-year-old and 3-year-old sons following him around. "They've been great to me and my family. So there's nothing but mutual appreciation there, there's no doubt about that."
Whitworth was surprised when the Bengals took offensive tackles — Cedric Ogbuehi and Jake Fisher — with their first two picks in the draft. The team captain has been trying to get an idea of where he fits in the Bengals' plans beyond this season, his last under contract, but no one had been willing to discuss it with him.
On Monday, Whitworth expressed his frustration over the team's silence about his future. He also said the uncertainty made it more difficult for him to be a team leader. A few days later, a tongue-in-cheek tweet was accidentally sent on his account suggesting that Mike Brown was getting rid of him. The tweet was quickly deleted.
After practice on Saturday, Whitworth said he was satisfied by his talk with the Brown family.
"Yeah, we talked plenty," he said. "And we're fine, we always have been. Like I said, Monday was just an emotional day for me. It's a tough day.
"It's just the process you go through as a player. You're getting older and eventually teams are going to have to make moves that prepare for that. And so for me, it's just being able to swallow that. The competitor I am, it's hard."
Whitworth expects to be the starting left tackle this season. Ogbuehi is recovering from reconstructive knee surgery in January and won't be able to fully participate in training camp. The Bengals think Fisher could fill in at various spots on the line.
The rookies are expected to assume bigger roles next year. Right tackle Andre Smith also is entering the final year on his contract.
Whitworth had the linemen over to his house last Saturday. He asked offensive line coach Paul Alexander if he could show up on Saturday and offer advice to the rookies.
"I'm excited about the opportunity to teach these kids and mentor them," Whitworth said. "That's why I'm here today. I told Paul I'd like to come up here and help them out and just watch and participate."
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