Can I get things that you never heard during the Marvin Lewis era for 500?
The Bengals played their first preseason game on Saturday, which gave players their first chance to make an impression. An offensive lineman who turned heads apparently was Michael Jordan. He impressed so much that the coaches decided to give him his shot with the first team offensive line sooner than anticipated.
“It has nothing to do with who is actually going to be the starter. You have to give them all a chance to play with the 1s,” offensive line coach Jim Turner told Geoff Hobson of Bengals.com. “This is Mike’s time to get a shot with the 1s. It really comes down to that. It’s a little quicker than we thought it was going to be because he played so well in the first game. Because he played so well in the first game we want to see what he can do with the first team. When you play with those better players on the first team, you should have more of a chance to shine yourself. We want to give him that opportunity.”
Turner starts off the quote and you think it is no big deal, but the fact he talks about Jordan earning his time before the team planned on giving him the shot is pretty noteworthy. The Bengals’ coaching staff has maintained that the battle for left guard is completely open, and this is the kind of effort you can see from unexpected players when you assure players that is the case.
If you’re wondering how Jordan did on Monday, the guy who played next to him was impressed.
“I think [Jordan is] playing great,” Trey Hopkins, who was getting his shot as the starting center, said “He’s playing with confidence. I don’t want to say it’s night and day from (spring practice), but he was kind of feeling around learning the offense. But this camp he’s been playing very well. Very impressed with him. He’s talking out there. He’s very confident. He knows a lot of football. The Ohio State guys are normally pretty smart.”
It is always good to hear about young players coming along quickly. It is especially important as the team may not be that far off from starting a new era beyond the Andy Dalton and A.J. Green era.
Even if Jordan doesn’t end up winning the job at guard, this has to increase the confidence that the team has options at the position if the initial winner struggles or we see injuries. We still can’t (and shouldn’t) count Jordan out from winning the job as a dark horse. After all, this falls right in line with exactly what Taylor’s approach to competition.
This is a breath of fresh air from last offseason when we were promised a competition at right guard and right tackle, but after the preseason started the offensive line was never shuffled unless it was due to injury until Week 15.
Plain and simple, the Bengals offensive line has been bad enough the past three years that you have to have coaches who are open to giving the job to whoever performs the best and throws any other bias out the window. It seemed like last season potential (Bobby Hart’s athleticism) and bias to a mindset (Alex Redmond’s attitude) determined the starters rather than who was the best fit for actually protecting Dalton.
Fan’s can at least be assured that no stone is being left unturned during training camp and the preseason.