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Bengals Mailbag: DB battles, camp scuffles and Cordell vs. Carman

John Sheeran and Anthony Cosenza of CIncy Jungle and The Orange and Black Insider went live Friday afternoon to answer your Bengals questions. A number of interesting topics were on the table.

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The Bengals are a few short weeks away from the season home-opener against the Steelers and they are prepping with their preseason finale against the Rams. Bad blood has boiled over in joint practices, as the Super Bowl rematch is apparently drudging up some harbored feelings.

John Sheeran and I went live Friday afternoon to talk about the team and answer your questions. If you didn’t get yours in, or we didn’t get to your question, get them to us in a number of ways:

Here is some of what was on tap this week:

  • We talk about the scuffles at practice between Cincinnati and the Rams.
  • Which defensive backs fighting for a roster spot will make it?
  • Which roles can be carved out by which defensive linemen?
  • Why isn’t Trey Hill more in the mix at left guard?
  • Will the Bengals start looking harder at University of Cincinnati players in the years ahead?
  • How hard is it to build a perennial winner in today’s NFL with the exorbitant contracts being given to quarterbacks and now wide receivers?

Of course, the big topic of conversation centered around Cordell Volson, Jackson Carman and the open competition at left guard. Carman didn’t play all that well as a starter in the preseason opener, while Volson had ups and downs playing throughout all of the second game with Carman out with Covid.

Who’s got the upper hand? Right now, it would seem that the rookie has a grasp on the job, though Saturday night’s contest may also play a role in the ultimate decision.

While they’ve made it an open competition, it’s likely that the Bengals would prefer to have Carman win the job because of his draft status. They obviously like Volson, but a failure of a second-round pick doesn’t sit well.

Regardless, as it is right now, Volson probably has the leg-up because of a couple of simple reasons. One is reliability and steadiness. The other being that Volson’s lows on tape aren’t as low as some of the snaps we’ve seen from Carman. The other side of that pendulum swing can be true, too, as we’ve seen Carman absolutely dominate some snaps as a pro.

Recently, La’el Collins praised Volson, calling him “one of the best rookies I’ve ever been around”. And, even the layman knows that chemistry, continuity and trust along the offensive line are some of the biggest keys aside from general talent.

Oddly enough, the rookie Volson (24) is older than Carman (22). The age factor is playing a role here, with Volson’s more extensive experience, albeit at a lower division of football, shining with the more refined polish we’re seeing than that of the second-year lineman out of Clemson.

That being said, if Volson does win the job, that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s time to give up on Carman. The awful report from earlier this summer notwithstanding, as noted above, Carman is still very young and may just need more time for further development. He’s also a tackle by trade and is learning the nuances of the NFL guard position.

Still, the second-year strides we’ve hoped to see just haven’t really been there so far this preseason. And, with Collins, Alex Cappa and Ted Karras shoring up the line, Cincinnati can’t really play a wait-and-see-while-starting experiment with Carman.

Their championship window has been shoved open and they need to seize things now, when their salary cap is well-managed with a glut of rookie contracts on the books. Volson seemingly gives them the safer and not-so-glamorous route of “just keeping the ship afloat” instead of those wild swings of pancake blocks and poor technique/missed assignments.

Regardless, it’s a big week for both guys against the Rams and whoever ends up starting the regular season may be on a short leash. Cincinnati can’t afford to have the issues they waded through last year along the offensive line.

Our thanks to all of you who sent in questions and for your “Super Chat” donations on YouTube! As you know by now, we are also continuing our support of the Pollack Family Foundation, spearheaded by former Bengals linebacker and current ESPN analyst, David Pollack.

Aside from providing education and information on physical and emotional wellness to families, the Pollack Family Foundation also helps out the Children’s Hospital of Atlanta, and provides assistance to Hope 139, whose mission is to help at-risk mothers and youth. You can submit a donation directly to them at the platform we’ve set up at, or by donating through our OBI channel’s Super Chat function. You can win great prizes!

If you’re unable to join us live here at Cincy Jungle or YouTube for every episode, all of our podcast content is available here on CJ, the Stitcher, Spotify, iHeart Radio and Google Play Music apps, our Orange and Black Insider YouTube channel, as well as through Megaphone and, as always, on iTunes! Thanks for listening and go subscribe to our channels to be notified when we’re going live and when new episodes are available!