Bengals' Whitworth taking injury slowly

CINCINNATI -- Andrew Whitworth believes he's in the best shape of his professional career.

But he has yet to show it at this training camp.

A late addition to the Cincinnati Bengals' physically unable to perform list, the veteran offensive tackle has spent the first eight practices on the team's rehab island; a corner of a practice field that's separated from the other two fields the Bengals regularly use. He's been nursing a bad calf, one that got strained during conditioning drills one day before camp opened.

Speaking for the first time since camp opened, Whitworth said he's "extremely" ready to get back to practice.

"I also have to realize that I have to be smart," he said. "I'm in fantastic shape; the best I've ever been in. I feel great. I just have to make sure it's OK and it's 100 percent before I get going."

On the point about his shape, Whitworth added that he spent more time working out this offseason than he had in any other year of his career.

In practice, the Pro Bowl left tackle has been replaced by swing tackle Marshall Newhouse, the veteran who was acquired in free agency after having last played in Green Bay.

While he hasn't had a chance to train with the team yet this preseason, Whitworth knows that being able to do the rehab work he's gotten in so far is light years beyond any activity he was able to do last preseason.

"No question," he said.

Last preseason, Whitworth was working through a knee injury that had been re-aggravated at the start of camp. He couldn't do anything for a few weeks, and even missed the Bengals' regular-season opener at Chicago because he was still getting healthy.

As for this injury, Whitworth still is taking his full recovery slowly because he doesn't want to run the risk of re-injuring himself once the season begins.

"It's no different than pulling a hamstring," Whitworth said. "It's something where if you rush it, it could be a six-month injury, and if you take your time, you can be fine. Just trying to take my time and be healthy and ready to go when it's time."