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Zac Taylor confirms Cordell Volson as Bengals’ starting left guard

Volson has officially come out on top, but Taylor doesn’t believe this is a setback for former top-50 pick Jackson Carman.

As expected, the Cincinnati Bengals are rolling with rookie Cordell Volson at left guard.

Head coach Zac Taylor announced Wednesday the fourth-round pick from this year’s NFL Draft has won the battle against Jackson Carman and will start Week 1 against the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Volson and Carman were competing for the spot throughout the offseason and the beginning of training camp, though it never seemed like the two were ever splitting reps with the first-team offensive line. In Week 1 of the preseason, Carman struggled mightily against the Arizona Cardinals. Volson came in for him during the second half and played a much cleaner game.

From then on, Volson had the reigns and never looked back.

Volson played the entire Week 2 preseason matchup vs. the New York Giants and continued to impress, while Carman was out with COVID-19. He practiced against the starting defensive line of the Los Angeles Rams during the team’s joint practices last week, and that told us all we needed to know about where the battle stood.

Volson didn’t even play in the preseason finale vs. Los Angeles. If the competition was still ongoing at that point, he would’ve split reps with Carman. Instead, Carman played the whole game, showcasing the same inconsistencies that have plagued him since he was drafted 46th overall last year.

This news also comes after the team claimed fourth-year o-lineman Max Scharping off the waiver wire. A former second-round pick from 2019, Scharping played over 2,000 snaps during his three years with the Houston Texans, and the majority of them were at left guard.

Scharping has shown to be a capable starter at times, but this move appears to be for providing depth behind Volson instead of pushing the rookie out of the starting gig. The situation may change as the season progresses, but for now, Scharping will be a valuable reserve.

That’s precisely what Taylor and the staff are hoping Carman can be at this point.

“He has come a long way since last year. We just added another player to the mix who has also shown improvement,” Taylor said of Carman. “This isn’t even a setback. It’s an opportunity to learn and grow. I like Jackson. I think he has a very bright future. But right now, he’s a backup guard.”

At most, that’s what Carman is. As callous as it may seem, Carman’s contract is likely what’s keeping him with the team that drafted him just 16 months ago. It costs money to part ways with top 50 picks so early. The Las Vegas Raiders made an unusual exception to the rule yesterday in waiving 2021 first-round pick Alex Leatherwood, but that’s an extreme case of a new regime clearing space for their guys.

Carman is a current regime investment; one that has looked worse as this year has progressed. If not for Volson’s emergence in the last month, it could’ve cost the Bengals dearly as the season begins.