Coach Marvin Lewis confirmed the worst case scenario Saturday. Free agent guard Travelle Wharton will be lost for the season.

Wharton, signed by Cincinnati to a three-year, $10-million contract this offseason and elevated to the starting role at left guard, will give way to backup Clint Boling.

This is the third significant injury of the nine-year veteran's career. He missed all but one game of the 2006 season with an ACL/MCL tear and the final seven games of 2010 with a toe injury.

The biggest blow comes in the short-yardage run game, where the Bengals struggled last year. Wharton's strength came in the run game where the Bengals ranked 24th in goal-to-go situations, 26th in red zone offense and 27th in rush yards per play last season.

Boling started the first three games of last season in place of then-starter Bobbie Williams. He was taken out for performance after three games and only played in two other games. He'll be forced to be a quick study but comes in 15 pounds lighter than Wharton at 315 pounds.

Follow Paul Dehner Jr. for Bengals updates on Twitter at @CBSSportsNFLCIN.