CINCINNATI — By the nature of changing teams, Riley Reiff has surely made some new fans in Cincinnati in his first year with the Bengals.
Just be sure to count star quarterback Joe Burrow among them.
The Parkston native who played for nine seasons as a starting tackle has moved over to right tackle for the upstart Bengals, who are 3-2.
Reiff, who is now in his 10th year in the NFL, will make his 133rd start as a professional on Sunday when the Bengals visit the Lions.
“He’s made a world of difference,” Burrow said of Reiff, according to the team’s website. “He’s a veteran leader that doesn’t say a lot, but when he does, you listen. And he’s really locked down that side of the offensive line.”
Reiff, 32, signed a one-year, $7.5 million contact in March to play for the Bengals. That was off a strong 2020 season where Reiff allowed just one sack for the Vikings and was graded as the NFL’s 20th best pass-blocking tackle by Pro Football Focus.
In Cincinnati, Reiff has been a welcomed upgrade at right tackle over Bobby Hart. During 2020, the Bengals had one of the league’s worst offensive lines, allowing 35 sacks and 215 quarterback pressures, per Pro Football Focus. (The team has allowed 14 sacks through five games so far this year.)
Burrow and Reiff notably developed an affinity for each other over a steak dinner in March when Reiff was making a visit to the Bengals.
"I walked away from eating that steak and was like, 'I wanna play and block for this guy,'" Reiff said at the time. "Just the way he conducts himself. ... Seems like a down-to-Earth Cincinnati-type guy."
The move to right tackle for Reiff returns him to a position at which he finished his career in Detroit, starting 14 games there. Reiff then was the full-time left tackle for four seasons in Minnesota until the salary-cap-strapped Vikings cut him in March.
Cincinnati’s offense ranks 16th in 2021 in offensive DVOA, or defensive-adjusted value over average. The Bengals were 29th in 2020 in the same statistic, which Football Outsiders created to do a better job of distributing credit for scoring points against a league-average baseline. The Bengals’ offensive line is ranked No. 9 in adjusted line yards from Football Outsiders, rushing metrics that attempt to isolate line play rather than total team offense.
For his career, Reiff will make his 141st appearance in his career in Sunday’s game against the Lions. For comparison, Mount Vernon native and former Minnesota Vikings linebacker Chad Greenway played 156 games and made 144 starts over 11 seasons from 2007 to 2016.