Cincinnati Bengals: Right guard depth is a major concern

Jackson Carman, Cincinnati Bengals (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
Jackson Carman, Cincinnati Bengals (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images) /

The Cincinnati Bengals took care of business in Detroit with a convincing 34-11 victory over the Lions. While there were plenty of positive takeaways from Week 6’s game, one position is slowly becoming a more and more prominent problem, as the situation at right guard for the Bengals is not ideal, to say the least.

The veteran guard Xavier Su’a-Filo began the year as Cincy’s starting right guard, but between his poor play and a knee injury, the job was opened up for the second-round rookie Jackson Carman. Carman’s performance has been very up and down in his four games of experience so far. Of course, that is somewhat expected with rookies, especially with Carman transitioning from tackle to guard.

Carman came off of COVID reserve just in time for the Lions game, but Cincinnati decided to start Trey Hill, the rookie out of Georgia, at right guard. Hill was replaced by Carman rather quickly after a few mistakes. The Bengals starting Hill seemed to be due to Carman hardly practicing this week.

However, we found out mid-game and post-game that Carman seemed to be dealing with some kind of illness. This whole ordeal with Carman was kind of wild. He asked his followers Friday evening where to eat in Detroit. After Sunday’s game, his tweet suggested he got some food poisoning, that’s rarely seen in the sports world.

Even while sick, Carman came in and balled out Sunday on his limited snaps. He ended up with the second-highest PFF grade on the Bengals’ offense at 87.2. Cincy’s faith in Carman was demonstrated when they pulled Hill so quickly and played the sick Carman. He has been up and down, but he is showing growth and becoming the clear starting right guard.

What’s the concern at right guard then?

As discussed, Carman at right guard is working so far and he will get better as the year goes on. The problem at right guard is the depth, as seen on Sunday.

Hill is essentially the backup center on the roster, with some ability to play guard. Starting Hill at guard is never going to be a good situation. What happens if the starting center Trey Hopkins goes down and Hill is starting at guard? At this point, a lot of reshuffling would have to happen, which is rarely positive.

Su’a-Filo has not played well and continues to deal with his injury as he is on injured reserve. In addition, another rookie D’Ante Smith is now on IR as well with a knee injury. Overall, the depth at guard has been thin recently and is pretty much wiped out right now.

When healthy, the actual offensive line depth is solid, injuries are just beginning to create a problem. This is an area on Cincinnati’s roster to keep an eye on. If players like Su’a-Filo and Smith cannot get back sooner rather than later, the Bengals might look into acquiring another guard via trade or free agency.

Right guard is specifically mentioned since there has been a lot of uncertainty about who should start and inconsistent play at the position. Quinton Spain has been pretty good at left guard this season and quite consistent. Depth behind Spain is a concern too though, guard depth as a whole is a headache right now.

Next. Winners and Losers from Week 6 vs Lions. dark

Even though things worked out in Detroit, we saw Carman not being 100% created some problems. The Bengals still managed to dominate but against the Ravens next week that could be a different story. Cincinnati’s starting guards in Spain and Carman must play well and stay healthy with thin depth behind them.