The Cincinnati Bengals have been heavily scrutinized for how they haven’t done enough to improve their offensive line.
They may not have added the top free agents or drafted the highest rated tackle, but they made significant moves to make the line trend more toward average than one of the worst in the NFL.
One of Cincinnati’s biggest moves was drafting Jackson Carman in the second round of the draft. He played left tackle at Clemson, but he will be looking to start at right guard with the Bengals. That is a shift that will take a lot of work, but Bengals head coach Zac Taylor isn’t afraid to challenge his rookie to earn that starting job.
“Just show that he (Carman) can be consistent day in and day out,” Taylor told reporters on Wednesday. “There’s a lot of things that go into playing in the NFL, and this goes for all the rookies...it’s being a pro on and off the field, taking care of your body, studying at night, being prepared with questions the next day.
“And that’s really the message to all those young players is you know, in college, you knew your system, you were a three or four-year starter. You knew it, it was easy to you. This isn’t going to be as easy to you. So you’ve got to spend a lot of time making sure you’re ready to go, because I promise you the guys he’s competing with, they know their jobs, and they’re ready to do it, and they don’t want to lose their job.
“So those will be good training camp battles at those guard spots and that’ll be an interesting group to watch as we get going here.”
Carman will have every opportunity to earn that job, but there are veterans behind him that won’t let him walk in and take the job. The rookie will have to do everything right to work his way ahead of the other veterans.
Taylor makes a nice list of things to make sure the rookie keeps picking up on the little differences in shifting from tackle to guard, especially playing inside in the NFL.
This offseason being more normal than last offseason should help the rookie out as well. The fact Carman will be able to get on the field and actually walk through the concepts of the offense rather than figuring it out over Zoom.
Carman developing early would really help this offensive line overall. He may end up being the weakest link at the beginning of the season that opposing defenses will attack, so he has to be prepared and ready for that challenge. The better he is ready for that challenge the better the entire offensive line will look as a whole. It seems apparent that Taylor and this staff want Carman to rise to the challenge, but it also doesn’t seem like they are beholden to the idea with Joe Burrow’s health on the line.
Hopefully, Carman comes out of the gates strong and doesn’t put any doubt into who will be the right guard in 2021.