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Bengals rookie report: Zach Carter slowly making strides

Will Carter be more of a factor in the wake of D.J. Reader’s injury?

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Cincinnati Bengals v Dallas Cowboys Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images

On the surface, the Cincinnati Bengals did indeed get right against the New York Jets. A stagnant second-half offensive output may say otherwise, but grinding out wins of all sorts is critical in building a playoff contender.

And if the imperfect games still result in 15-point victories, you’ll take that 11 times out of 10.

It’s these games that the rookies will remember in their development as professionals; building towards success and seeing it materialize. There’s much work to be done, but the young fellas are doing alright.

Cordell Volson

The best week for the Bengals’ offensive line wasn’t necessarily the best for its youngest starter. Volson had another up-and-down outing featuring a holding penalty that negated the team’s first touchdown, some promising moments blocking in the second level, and a handful of discouraging losses in pass protection. His main opposition, Quinnen Williams, was the Jets’ best pass-rusher of the day as he recorded four pressures and a sack, though only two pressures were charged to Volson, per Pro Football Focus.

Williams is the combination of strength and quickness that will get the best of any rookie guard, but Volson and Jonah Williams managed to secure the left side of the line much better compared to the previous two weeks. Scheme can be attributed to this improvement as they ran just nine true drop backs the entire game. The opening drives were comprised of calls that aided protection out of the gate.

Protection shouldn’t be too much of an issue for Volson this week as Miami Dolphins 3-tech Christian Wilkins is more of a renowned run-stopper than pass-rusher, but that doesn’t bode well for the Bengals’ run game to be revived. The Dolphins collectively are seventh in the league in rushing success rate allowed and pose the fourth-best PFF team grade against the run. Volson continuing to survive on passing plays is what counts this week.

Zach Carter

Regardless if D.J. Reader’s knee injury is serious, he’s not likely to suit up on Thursday. Carter saw the ramifications of Reader’s absence by playing four more snaps Sunday (27) than he played in the first two weeks combined. Cincinnati had to make do with a rotation of just three defensive tackles, and they’ll likely add Jay Tufele or elevate Tyler Shelvin to compensate for Reader’s absence.

So long as they have another true nose tackle to play in tandem with Josh Tupou, Carter’s usage may not sustain where it was this week. Nevertheless, it was encouraging to see Carter actually make a play on the ball.

We’re still waiting to see Carter make progress against the pass, and considering Reader has been their best interior rusher along with being an unstoppable force against the run, they need a spark inside. Getting it from the rookie would be a much-needed boost.

Dax Hill

Six snaps, to two snaps, to five snaps. Hill might be doing everything right in practice, but so long as the players ahead of him are healthy, it’s clear he’s not in the defense to be rotated in with any sense of frequency. Defensive coordinator Lou Anarumo said so—emphatically—last week.

“I’ve been doing this for 30 years; I’ve never rotated a corner or a safety in my life. And I never will,” Anarumo said. “The starters are the starters for a reason. And there’s usually good reason. That kid will get in when I feel it’s the right time, the right place, in the right role, in the right game. And that’s how that’s gonna go.”

Duly noted. Whenever he goes in for more than obscure third-and-long packages, we’ll know it’s for good reason.

Where on the field was Dax Hill?

  • Free safety: three snaps
  • Box: two snaps

Cal Adomitis

That last snap to Kevin Huber seemed a bit inaccurate upon first glance, but it was another solid day for Adomitis. When has Evan McPherson missed that badly after a passable snap and hold? Just something to consider.