Training camp is now bleeding into the preseason as the Cincinnati Bengals are getting prepared for their first exhibition of the year.
The Arizona Cardinals are coming into town Friday as the first opponents to play inside Paycor Stadium. But they won’t be playing many of the Bengals’ notable players.
Head coach Zac Taylor said during Wednesday’s press conference that any player entrenched in a starting role will not suit up vs. Arizona. This likely means the entire starting defense and nearly the entire starting offense will not play this week. No Ja’Marr Chase, Trey Hendrickson, Vonn Bell, etc.
But not every player that has practiced with the first-string will get Friday off. Brandon Allen, Jackson Carman, and Dax Hill have all practiced with the 1s during camp and will play a significant amount of the game.
Allen, who’s been practicing in the place of Joe Burrow (appendectomy), will play the entire first half. Jake Browning will likely finish the game in the second half, but Drew Plitt could always go in towards the end.
Blocking for Allen at left guard will be Carman, who’s still battling rookie Cordell Volson for the starting gig. To Carman’s credit, Volson hasn’t seemed to gain any ground on him through two weeks of practice, but this battle figures to endure the entire preseason. Volson will get plenty of reps as well.
Hill has been in Jessie Bates’ spot at free safety for the entirety of the offseason and that’s not changing Friday. He’ll start the game, but how long he’ll play is up in the air. Considering Hill’s a first-round pick playing for an absent veteran, it may be wise to not overplay him during the preseason should they need him to start next month. That said, he is a rookie, and reps will only aid his learning curve.
Joseph Ossai was a rookie last year and only played in one preseason game before suffering a season-ending knee injury. This will be his first game back, and Taylor says he’s playing time will be managed accordingly. Ironically, Ossai is still one of the four youngest players on the entire team despite being a second-year player.
On the other side of the ball, La’el Collins wouldn’t be playing even if the starters were suiting up. Collins was cleared for practice Wednesday but is only doing walkthroughs and individual drills for the time being. He’ll be ramped up in due time.
D’Ante Smith, whom has sparingly filled in for Collins at right tackle during camp, also will not play on Friday. Smith suffered a back injury this past week and is considered day-to-day. Since starting left tackle Jonah Williams won’t play this week, this leaves the offensive line with two true tackles in Isaiah Prince and rookie Devin Cochran. Hakeem Adeniji could feasibly fill in at one of the tackle spots on Friday as well.
Lastly, the battle at punter will be on full display Friday with both Kevin Huber and Drue Chrisman set to play. Chrisman is the challenger here, and not only will his punts be put under the microscope, how he holds for kicker Evan McPherson will be crucial.
Check out Taylor’s full presser here.
Cincy Jungle comes loaded with the best Bengals links, news, analysis and more fun stuff. Find us on Twitter at @CincyJungle and on Facebook at Facebook.com/CincyJungle. If you want to check out our podcasts, including all Orange and Black Insider content, it is available here on CJ, the Stitcher, Spotify, iHeart Radio, our YouTube channel, and on iTunes!