In a game where both of the respective teams’ radio commentators played on the offensive line it’s only fitting that the main matchups for Sunday’s Bengals-Browns game are in the trenches.

If you are a connoisseur of offensive line play in particular left tackles then this is the game for you with Andrew Whitworth and Joe Thomas.

When Whitworth found out in January that he was headed to the Pro Bowl for the first time one of the first people not associated with the Bengals to congratulate him was Thomas. Their families are close through players’ union functions and their wives usually sit with each other when the two teams play.

“For years now Joe has been one of the biggest allies for me and always questions why in the world I wasn’t there. So that’s always been cool that he’d do that for me. I have a lot of respect for him and him for me” Whitworth said. “Joe’s a guy that I always watch who he plays and how he blocks them and it kind of gives me an idea of different guys. I think we can learn a little bit from each other and watch different styles. We know each other well enough to know what gives each other trouble.”

Both have been considered the league’s best pass blockers. In their evaluations Pro Football Focus had Whitworth was rated the top pass blocking left tackle in the league last season with Thomas second. In 2011 the positions were reversed. In pass blocking efficiency Thomas was first the past two seasons and Whitworth was second.

Whitworth did not make his first Pro Bowl until last year. Had Whitworth been selected in the first round in the 2006 draft instead of the second he would have had at least three postseason trips to Hawaii by now.

“Obviously I think he’s been a great player at left tackle for a long time in the NFL. Sometimes it’s one of those things where it just takes time before people realize the good job that you’re doing” Thomas said. “He’s very difficult to beat. He doesn’t have weaknesses really when you watch him. He’s so big and athletic. He’s just the prototypical size and speed and strength that you’d want for a left tackle. He’s way bigger than I am.”

“Throughout the different sites and people that keep up with it they say that he and I are probably two of the best pass protectors over the last couple years or probably the top two. We hear it a lot from the young tackles that come up to us and ask us things” Whitworth said.

Both Thomas and Whitworth will have stiff challenges from the opposing defensive lines. In Whitworth’s case it is unique. Not only is it the Battle of Ohio but its also the Battle of West Monroe La. between Whitworth and Browns rookie linebacker Barkevious Mingo who is likely to get his first NFL start due to a knee injury to Jabaal Sheard.

Whitworth and Mingo went to the same high school and Whitworth has been following and mentoring him. When the basketball team won a playoff game to advance to the state tournament in Mingo’s junior year Whitworth took the team out to dinner.

Mingo didn’t start playing football until he was a junior in high school but captured All-State honors. He then followed the path of many highly rated West Monroe players including Whitworth and went to LSU before being selected by the Browns as the sixth overall pick in this year’s draft.

“It will be a clash. Me and Whit go way back” said Mingo during a conference call. “He’s a great player and looking forward to going up against him. He’s a guy that does everything the right way plays hard.”

Added offensive line coach Paul Alexander in a joking manner: “West Monroe is like the Hollywood of the South. Whitworth Mingo Duck Dynasty – they have them all.”

In his eighth season Whitworth joked that going up against Mingo makes him feel like he’s getting old but there’s a certain sense of pride too seeing how much Mingo has accomplished so far.