The Cincinnati Bengals biggest question mark so far this offseason and into preseason has been if the offensive line is good enough to protect Joe Burrow and stay consistent enough not to be a weak spot that other teams expose. The addition of veteran Riley Reiff has made it easier to fill out the line, but many questions remain as preseason winds down.
The guard position right now seems like the biggest question mark. Currently, head coach Zac Taylor has moved several players around to find the right fit at those two spots. Quinton Spain looks as if he could be one of the top candidates for the job, while Michael Jordan has started there over the first two preseason games and seems like the favorite to win the starting right guard spot.
Second-round pick Jackson Carman has slowly progressed in the right direction, but do not expect him to be one of the starting guards in Week 1. It also seems like another rookie offensive lineman D’Ante Smith has the upper hand on Carman for the job after his recent success in training camp and Week 1 of the preseason. He was out against the Washington Football Team due to dehydration but was rumored to be getting the start alongside Jordan with the first-unit offense.
Xavier Su’a-Filo is another candidate to evaluate when determining who should start at one the guard spots. Su’a-Filo was brought in last offseason, where the expectation was that he would come in and be a difference-maker on the line. Unfortunately, having his season be cut short due to injuries and underperforming when active has made him more of a longshot to win one of these jobs.
With only one week of preseason remaining, the starters for Sunday’s game against the Miami Dolphins will most likely be the starting unit you see against the Vikings if, in fact, everybody is healthy and active. Ultimately, Zac Taylor’s decision for these two starting guard spots will be crucial due to the dying concerns everyone is waiting to find out about. Most of the criticism the Bengals have faced this offseason revolves around the lack of moves on the line in free agency besides adding Riley Reiff. Expect Taylor to reveal the starting line within the next week or so.
My projected starting offensive line depth chart entering Week 1
RT- Riley Reiff / Fred Johnson
RG – Michael Jordan / Xavier Su’a-Filo / Jackson Carman
C – Trey Hopkins / Billy Price / Trey Hill
LG – Quinton Spain / D’Ante Smith
LT – Jonah Williams / Isaiah Prince