With the cameras swarming around the Bengals for the HBO special Hard Knocks and the print media feeding fans daily updates and developments, it seems odd that one starter has gone through training camp and two preseason games without even a mention of his name: Nate Livings.
Livings is tops on the depth chart at left guard and started six games last season once Whitworth was injured. After spending two seasons on the practice squad, the Bengals activated Livings for a nationally-televised Thursday night game in Pittsburgh.
I can imagine Marvin Lewis grinning at Livings that night, clapping him on the back and saying, “Welcome to the big show, Nate. Now try not to get killed,” and then walk away chuckling the way he does.
But Livings didn’t get killed, holding up okay in that game and the games after. He began showing consistency once settled in next to another replacement, Anthony Collins as the season finally completed it’s nosedive. With the backup line in as starters, Cedric Benson ran his way to his career’s best days, and because of the effectiveness of their play during that stretch, Livings and Collins have earned themselves starting spots in 2009.
From Bayou Bengal to just plain old Bengal, the Louisiana native has apparently been a successful project for the coaching staff, particularly o-line coach Paul Alexander. But why has there been zero media coverage of this starter? We’ve heard coaches talk about Kyle Cook’s strength and we know about Whitworth’s footwork and Bobby Williams girth and there has been plenty written about Collins and his development, but Livings just seems to be a guy who quietly blocks.
The age-old saying about offensive linemen is that if they aren’t noticed then they’re doing their job. With the kind of anonymity that Livings has gone about his work in so far, he must be putting in overtime hours. In that case, let’s hope Livings is never mentioned again.