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Andrew Whitworth dares the Bengals to draft his replacement

NEW ORLEANS, LA - NOVEMBER 16: Andrew Whitworth #77 of the Cincinnati Bengals participates in warmups prior to a game against the New Orleans Saints at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on November 16, 2014 in New Orleans, Louisiana. Cincinnati defeated New Orleans 27-10. (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)

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The Bengals have the oldest starting left tackle in the NFL, so it only makes sense that they might look for a replacement this week.

But Bengals left tackle Andrew Whitworth has a message for any tackle they might draft — bring it on.

The 33-year-old Whitworth said he’s playing his best football as he enters his 10th season, and doesn’t see that changing soon.

Mess up and draft somebody at my position because you are going to sit around and watch him sit the bench,” Whitworth said, via Paul Dehner of the Cincinnati Enquirer. “That’s always been my mentality. I see it as a challenge.”

The former second-rounder has grown into one of the league’s top tackles, even after knee surgery two years ago, and has continued to play at a high level.

“Right now, this is the strongest I’ve been in my life, most conditioned I’ve been in my life,” Whitworth said. “I don’t see the door that’s closing. This is the strongest I’ve ever lifted in my career. I feel like I’m as fast or faster than I’ve ever been in my life. I’m in the best shape ever.

“I stop listening to what people thought about what year you are in or when they thought you should be done and started to just listen to what my body says. My body says I can still go get it. I’m still excited to take on anybody any day.”

It’s not that Whitworth would be a bad teammate if a young tackle came in, as he’s become the leader in their locker room. But the way he’s playing, the Bengals have to know any such pick is an investment in the future and not the present.