“It’ll be tough. Don’t know,” said head coach Zac Taylor of the chances that Cappa would be able to play Sunday on his gimpy left ankle.
So who is the next man up?
Meet Max Scharping, who the Bengals claimed on waivers from the Houston Texans on August 31. Scharping was a second-round pick of the Texans in the 2019 NFL Draft who had become a staple of Houston’s offensive line under former head coach Bill O’Brien. But, with the change in leadership at the end of the 2022 season, Scharping soon became the odd man out.
Scharping certainly proved himself to be a serviceable lineman for the Texans, who moved the imposing 6-foot-6, 327-pounder from his natural position of tackle to guard.
As a rookie, Scharping played 938 snaps and allowed just three sacks, while committing six penalties. Pro Football Focus gave him a 72.8 grade in pass blocking and an overall grade of 56.7.
“Max works very hard, works hard in the weight room, works hard to improve, very coachable. You’re really looking for coachable guys. He takes the coaching to heart, he tries to get better every week,” O’Brien said near the end of that rookie year.
In 2020, Scharping played 454 snaps while allowing just a single sack and committing two penalties. Last year, he played 689 snaps, allowed two sacks and committed just three penalties. His overall grade in 2020 was 52.1, and jumped up to 59.9 in 2021.
In all, Scharping started 33 games for the Texans, and he still has a lot left in the tank.
“Max has played a lot of football, and he knows his stuff,” Bengals’ quarterback Joe Burrow said after the game on Sunday. “He’s going to have to step up, but we have all the faith in the world in him.”
While no one should expect Scharping to step in and play at Cappa’s level, he has proven himself to be more than capable of holding down the position for as long as necessary.