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Jones out, Smith in for Bengals

Posted by ESPN.com's James Walker

As expected for weeks, the Cincinnati Bengals terminated the contract of oft-injured left tackle Levi Jones Wednesday. This erases any competition at the position and all but assures rookie first-round pick Andre Smith will start in Week 1 against the Denver Broncos.

There have been some questions of whether Smith is better suited for right tackle than left. But when a team is willing to pay a contract worth $50 million, which is the approximate asking price these days for a No. 6 overall pick, that player needs to be the team's top lineman and field the most demanding position.

Cutting Jones, who played left tackle for Cincinnati the past seven years, clears the way for Smith. The rookie likely will have the tall task of protecting the blindside of quarterback Carson Palmer, who has suffered season-ending injuries in two of the past four seasons.

By not keeping Jones around to compete with Smith or provide depth, it's a sign the Bengals are confident that Smith can get the job done in his first NFL season.