The Bengals made a slew of additions along the offensive line this offseason, but one spot is still up for grabs in the build-up to the regular season. The starting left guard position has been a point of focus throughout spring and summer workouts, and will remain a battleground for the next few weeks.
Jackson Carman, whom the Bengals drafted in the second round last year, registered six starts amongst his 17 appearances as a rookie, playing at both right and left guard. He earned a passable run-blocking PFF grade, but struggled in pass protection, leading to an overall grade of 56.3. While he was the starter at LG on paper following the draft, then, the door has been open to another name emerging to take the spot.
That contender has taken the form of fourth-round rookie Cordell Volson. The North Dakota State alum was named in May as the player who could displace Carman. The former’s performances in practice and the team’s first preseason contest has certainly caught the team’s attention, considering remarks recently made by head coach Zac Taylor.
“He flashes some really good stuff and it’s just the consistency there and learning from your previous mistakes,” Taylor said, via ESPN’s Ben Baby. He added that “by no means is that left guard spot solidified by anybody.”
Carman struggled, by contrast, in that preseason opener, and has now encountered another obstacle. Baby tweets that the Clemson alum tested positive for COVID-19 this week. The time he misses will give Volson further opportunity to receive first-team reps, as he already briefly had been prior to Carman being sidelined.
Cincinnati has left tackle Jonah Williams, along with free agent signings Ted Karras, Alex Cappa and La’el Collins in place as starters along the o-line. The final spot could remain in the air up to Week 1 of the regular season.